Top 5 cheapest & BEST for the $ SURVIVAL blades

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by psy-ops, Dec 12, 2002.

  1. Rifter


    Dec 15, 2001
    I agree a SAK is a good thing to have with you, i thought we were talking just knives not multi-tools. I would also always have my PCKS buck 110 with me for smaller precision cutting and skinning anyways, never only take one knife :D

    I agree that most stainless steels are not as tough as carbon, Some however are better or worse than others, for example D2 and BG42 are probably among the worst for toughness they chip/snap easy, but they also have very high wear resistance and edge holding, its always a balance. However a properly heat treated S30V blade held around 58-59RC is going to be almost as tough as most carbon steels and its stainless, which like i said is a big plus when you are around salt water.
  2. frank k

    frank k

    May 8, 2001
    S30V dose have a lot of excellent properties, but it is still a stainless steel and will break about as easily as other stainless knife steels run at similar hardness levels (S30V should be a bit more resistant to very minor edge chipping, but not large chip outs). Even A2 (which is not a particularly tough toolsteel) is about 50% tougher than S30V (both at 60 Rc).

    CPM3V at Rc 60 has almost three times the toughness as S30V, with nearly the same wear resistance. S30V is more stainless, but CPM3V is not too bad for a non stainless steel (similar to D2).

  3. Buzzbait


    Feb 25, 2001
    I'd mention what blade geometry you're talking about in this conversation. I have a hollow gound Dozier in D2, as well as a convex ground Dozier in D2. The convex ground Dozier is almost as easy to sharpen as a similarly ground Mabrles in 52-100, and is much more chip resistant then the hollow ground Dozier. "High performance" steels are indeed a viable option for survival use, if they are ground for their intended purpose.
  4. Hoodoo


    Aug 18, 1999
    How do you know this?

    Years ago I used to read about guys going goose hunting with Canadian Crees as guides and how the Crees could pick up their client's shotguns and were unbelieveable deadly with them, even though they had never fired them before. Most of them were carrying ol' single shots but could pick up a fancy pump or double and hit what they aimed at first time. I would find it interesting if these guys got all confused if you gave them a "foreign" knife to butcher the geese with.

    Ok, now I'm starting to think, just like you suggested that I should. And I'm thinking that they would try out the new knife and given their years of experience, would dump it if it wasn't working as well as they one they had on their belt. That's what I would do. In fact, I've done it. But--think about it...

    But I just can't figure out how these unenlightened people survived--well, they don't actually survive do they? they actually live--for centuries without fancy bowie knives of S30V. It's truly a miracle. I can't understand why all the Lapplanders haven't traded in their leukus for big thick chopping bowie knives. These big chunks of steel should be selling like hot cakes in the Amazon. All it will take is a little time for them to see the light and realize they've been doing it wrong for centuries. I guess they just haven't thought about it enough. I mean why pay $3 for a machete that is a thin bladed slicing machine you can sharpen on a rock (I know I can do it) when you can pay $300 for state of the art big thick bowie knife that you need a diamond hone to sharpen? Obviously they just haven't thought about it long enough.

    But I'm going to do more thinking about it. I'm going to lean back in my lazy boy with my imaginary bowie (is imagining the same as thinking?) and think about it...
  5. mark0


    Nov 26, 2002
    I second the post above.
    In fact there is an earlier post in which Jerry
    Hossom stated that if he needed to be in the jungle or bush for a while he would take a Ontario
    machete in preference for one of his own custom knives.

    Having just returned from an Amazon jungle trip as well as having spent time in Canadian forest, I am quite cetain that even though the thick bowies
    make a fine collector piece and are a great hobby
    item they are not used by people that have to use
    knives for REAL.
    I have one of these thick bladed wonders and I never use it.

    In the rainforest environment a thin machete
    is essential. A thin bladed Swiss army knife or
    a Frosts Mora are a good addition. A small saw
    and axe are useful for long jungle camping trips but not essential.
    For small creek travel we used a felling axe to
    cut logs that were blocking the way.

    For North American forests a medium axe and small
    saw + a Mora or Swiss army are more than enough.
    One can get away with a large Swiss army model with a saw (there is enough dead wood around).

    Of course It would be nice to have a CPM3V machete
    but this is speaking as a hobyist.
    In fact a have a Incolma Gavilan Colombian machete that is 1/16 thin and the steel is so hard that I dulled 2 good files sharpening it.
    I was afraid it would chip but it has proven very tough. And the cost was 5 dollars.
    I still do not know how they can produce such good steel for 5 bucks.
    By comparison a Tramontina or Martindale are so soft that they practically have to be sharpened after every day of intensive use.

    Bottom line: This survival business is a fun hobby only.
    The people that use blades on a daily bases in all the cultures of the world use thin knives, machetes or thin blade axes.
  6. ajrand


    Aug 30, 2001
    It's wonderful how >PASSIONATE< people get about threads like this. I don't know what the best knife is for survival. I'm certain there are knives that are terrific for one set of circumstances that would totally stink in a different situation. I don't beleive there is any knife that will handle every possible situation, though there are some that are very versatile. I'm absolutely certain that what we carry in our skull outweighs all other considerations when survival is at stake. A well trained person with no knife will outlast a knowledgeless walking knife rack every time.
  7. Jimbo


    Aug 10, 1999
    I don't know about all this passionate stuff..
    I think that what's needed is some properly designed blade such as the Swiss Army Axe..
    But that's only because I can't afford Hoodoo's Battlebar!
    I guess it's not good form to post links to it over on the other forum, which is a pity since a little humor is always good.
  8. psy-ops


    Sep 27, 1999
    besides everything hoodoo has mentioned.

    It all boils down to. money money money. who can afford to dig a hole with a $300.-$500. knife?
    if you can more power to ya!

    regardless of the cost you got to know what to do with it. if you give a wannabe idiot a precision sniper rifle that doesn't mean he will engage the right target. but if you give a sniper a cheapo rifle he will make it happen.

    so if some average American guy is lost alone in the Amazon with a $300.00 knife, without extreme luck he will die. While an average Amazonian guy with a cheapo machete will most probably live relatively comfortably.
  9. Tightwad


    Jul 22, 2001
    chrisola, now you've done it.....:rolleyes:

    Ya went and exposed the second truth about
    survival......experiance & training.;)

    Just as you said the price of a knife in a true
    survival event is irrelvant. You'll use what you
    have to make it out no matter the cost.

    What you will have learned is what really does
    work and why. You will also have learned NOT to spend big bucks on that wonder knife when you have to tear it up to survive. What worked 50 years ago
    will still work today. What the tools are made of
    may change does not.

    For myself I use a Buck Nighthawk as a go every-
    where knife when I'm out of the city. Why?Simple..
    It's cheap, it's tough, and it always works. That
    and my supertool / Stockman combo are by far the
    best SET of daily carry tool I've found thus far.
  10. Jerry Hossom

    Jerry Hossom

    Aug 1, 1999
    I'm happy to say it again, and I've spent the better part of two years in the Jungle while in the Army. An Ontario machete (which is what I had back then) and a Swiss Army knife would be my choices for all the reasons given above. Now as for my third choice.... :)
  11. psy-ops


    Sep 27, 1999

    you know the hidden secret of the knife world. when I started truly being into knives in '90 I was lucky and bought a CS SRK. Then I started getting magazines and all the pictures of survival knives. So I bought a Busse, and others. All the while I thought I just couldn't make it with only a SRK. Now I can do it with a SAK without the panic. SO I came full circle back to good cheap knives.

    As I evolved with knives, little by little I gained tons of real world experience and I would say buying a cheap knife and a video/s of survival skills is far better than an expensive survival knife. if you are rich get to a survival seminar. much more important.
  12. volvi


    Jan 2, 2000
  13. Don Rac

    Don Rac

    Oct 3, 2001
    When Jerry Hossom himself says he'd pick an Ontario machete and a SAK over one of his own creations, it speaks volumes. Add that to the writings of outdoorsmen like Nessmuk and watching native peoples who are not yet industrialzed work their magic with a cheap blade.

    My favortite cheapie is a SAK. And a Mora. Both are cheap, light, and didn't require me to break my back making money for them.
  14. firkin


    Jan 26, 2002

    What about the Nepalis, and their khukuris???
    Jungle to high mountains in that country--various kinds of khukuris everywhere. Not exactly thin.

    I think the edge geometry, not thickness, and most importantly, the experience and head on the knife wielder's shoulders are the most important factors.

    How did humans survive without metal? The latter two.
  15. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    Bolos and many other traditional indonesian knives are certainly far from thin. It depends on the environment.

    Back to the original question:

    About 95% of what I need to cut over the last decade has been cut by my cheap over-the-counter stockman knife. A SAK or even a traditional folder can go a long way for you. Your mind is the real key to survival.

    I have also found some fun and incredibly cheap outdoor knives in the form of old bayonets. The US bayonets are less then impressive and usually need to be edged since they tend to be poorly balanced and poorly profiled for fieldwork. The M4-M7 were based on the M3 fighting knife, and the M9 is heavy and expensive enough to be excluded from this thread.

    But the Spanish 1969 Cetme bayonets can be good camp knives.
    The blade is long, strong and light enough to carry, yet heavy enough to do light chopping (blade is 8" by 1" by 3/16" and slight recurved). The simple carbon steel takes a great edge, but tends to rust readily. You are more likely to loose the edge to rust then to wear. The sheath is particularly good, strong, quite and secure; and the handle is incrediby though. Not bad for a knife that can be had for well under $30.

    The Swedish M1896 is another good choice. Great steel and excellent construction makes this a really good knife. They actually have hollow handles and are easilly converted into functional hollow handled survival knives. 1000s were commercially converted a few years back and many more have been converted privately. The form fitted metal sheath is excellent, but you do need a frog. They are inexpensive now, but they haven't been made in over 105 years, and the cost of producing something like this today would be quite high.

    This one is harder to get and a bit more expensive but I have found it to be an excellent field knife. The Spanish issued these during the 1950-50s to their mountain troops and other Special Operations units.

    They are small (just 10" OAL), but can take an excellent edge, and are very strong and well balanced (almost 1/4" thick at the spine). The first time I put an edge on mine I was surprised by how sharp this knife could get (the edge grind goes all the way to the spine). Better yet, it chops like something much larger, the balance makes it feel much larger than it is.

    On the commercial side

    On the commercial side, the Schrade Sharpfinger, is a good cheap sturdy knife. The standard sheath should be restiched or just replaced, but the knife is a great choice for $20.

    We should also include Buck's classic line up of knives. Knives like the Special, and the model 110, have probably seen and survived more service and abuse then just about any other knives in the US.

  16. Hoodoo


    Aug 18, 1999
    I think volvi made an important point. There are "combat" survival knives and then there are "survival" knives. Personally, I think these are two different breeds. Of course, I could play devil's advocate and say that more revolutions were fought and won with machetes than any other knife but...I won't.;)
  17. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    An interesting thought; perhaps it should have its own thread?

    I have never liked the term "Survival Knife". Unexpected situations happen and when we encounter one we would probably want to make the most of it and get through as comfortably as we can. A knife of some kind would fit into that somewhere, since it is hardly possible to get through any day without using some kind of knife. But, what kind of knife?

    It really comes down to two very different tools. One is a very simple sharp basic knife identical to whatever you use around the kitchen everyday. The other is a heavier knife intended for woodworking and field crafting. There is really no reason to ask one knife to do both tasks. Which is why most of us carry multiple knives when we are enjoying the outdoors.

  18. Hoodoo


    Aug 18, 1999
    I totally agree, n2s. The "one knife" scenario is one of those romantic chairborne commando myths that seems to go on and on and on like the energizer bunny. Me against the world and all I gots is me bloody combat survival knoife. And just like Crocodile Dundee or Rambo I can take a town down, open 50 gallon drums, pry open ammo boxes, conquer the outback and whatever other bolshevism the Chairbornes fantasize about. When I see guys talking on the internet about how all they need is their one big fat big dollar super steel combat survival knife then I start to wonder if they've reached the shaving stage yet.;)
  19. Jerry Hossom

    Jerry Hossom

    Aug 1, 1999
    I could make the point that more revolutions have been LOST with machetes than any other knife but... I won't. :)

    My comments above referred specifically to survival conditions (in ANY environment) without tactical considerations, though a machete does make a hell of a weapon. The problem with these discussions is that Rambo or Red Dawn creep in and we end up imagining tactical needs where they rarely exist. Survival blades are used for fashioning shelter and wooden tools, like snares, dead falls, and spears (maybe), for killing game. The very last thing I would ever do is to lash my only knife onto the front of a stick and spear an animal that would most likely run off with my only chance for survival. A fire-hardened wooden spear point works fine, and is far less costly to lose.

    Worth thinking about when listening to the sage advice of "experts", myself included, is that nobody has all the answers and none have tried all the blades that are available. If your experience is with a heavy bowie style blade, and you learn your woodcraft using such a knife, then THAT is what you will recommend as the best choice. Those who are unfamiliar with using a machete are unlikely to recommend one. Those whose field experience is on the Discovery Channel are more likely to favor a heavy chopper than is someone else who's carried a heavy load for a lot of hard miles.

    The fact is, and I think what N2S showed us is right on, you use what you have and ANY knife, even one intended for far different purposes is what becomes your SURVIVAL knife. By definitions, "survival" means fate is dealing the cards and you play the hand he gives you.

    There are lots of options. For instance, just yesterday I profiled and ground a small harpoon head that was designed by Terrill Hoffman, terrific photographer and maybe the best woodcraft practicioner I've ever met. Carried in the same sheath as a larger blade, it can be used by itself as a small knife or lashed to a pole for spearing fish or game. I suppose it could make a pretty good weapon, but I'd rather hang onto it for making meat when I need it. Starvation is an ugly way to die.

    Good thread. Thanks for starting it. "Tightwad"...!? :)

    [edited to add: I am not accepting orders so the mention of the harpoon head is not a commercial message, just food for thought.]
  20. Toxin


    Apr 25, 2002
    Ok, fine you have the knowledge of how to survive. Knowledge isn't the problem , you wouldn't be getting all this stuff if you dont plan on using or knowing how to use it now would you. Let say you needed to make something fast, shelter or fire whatever. Which required speed and saftey. As Rifter said:
    it can do it all, slice/chop/stab etc. Now can you depend on your $10 knife to do all the tasks? Or are you gonna carry 5 knives axes what ever to do each job. Now for me, Iam not a big guy so carring an axe, for just chopping wood down, isnt productive. I need a knife that will do other jobs too. The more work one knife can do the less I have to carry.

    s**t happens, you just gotta make sure it happens your way.

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