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Weapons for Survival Part II: Edged Weapons.

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posted on Sep, 13 2009 @ 11:15 AM
Weapons for Survival Part II
Edged Weapons.

Note: I am only addressing Non-Folding “Bowie” style knives. Folding knives are VERY useful and I carry one always. What follows will apply to folders in a large part. Just remember to get a “Lock Blade”… It will save a finger or two.

No matter what the survival situation you may find yourself in, there is little doubt that a good solid knife will serve you well. Never runs out of ammunition, light and easy to carry and soon becomes ones best friend. From cutting down trees to treating wounds to self defense to an eating utensil, a good solid knife is absolutely indispensible in survival.

Now many will recommend this knife, and that knife and this brand and that brand, I will submit to you that it does not matter in the least. In point of fact, I have used, owned and tried out just about every conceivable “style” of knife and found them all possessing good qualities and lacking in some areas.

From the 5 dollar knife made in China, (Which actually is constructed very well) to the 175 dollar Aitor, I own them, have used them and found uses for them all.

Now just using my experience, and your experience may differ, I am going to list what I consider Must Haves as far as the construction of the knife goes. Again, your wants and needs may differ.

1. Full Tang: An absolute MUST. If your knife does not have a full tang, it has a weak point where the handle joins the blade and may fail you.

2. High Carbon Stainless Steel: While the stainless makes it a little harder to sharpen, it really increases the time between sharpening and reduces the amount of time needed to care for the blade.

3. Rockwell “C” of 58 with 440C Stainless is my preference and I have found this to be a good combination. 440A or B will suit as well, but I prefer the C for overall use.

4. Forged over stamped: This is something you may not be able to tell, but will make a huge difference. Generally most good knives are forged, but the stamped ones also have their uses and I have found them to be reliable and well made. The point here is don’t trust your life to a stamped knife.

5. Bolster: I like a good wide bolster as I can be clumsy at times and this has more than once saved my fingers. Still it is individual choice.

6. Edge: I prefer a single edge as many application demand I use my off hand to pressure the blade through whatever it is I am cutting. I have found blades with a serration, and they vary wildly, to be useful depending on the type and quality of the serration. You will note my choices in the pictures I have listed of my knives.

7. Thickness: I was not going to include this, as it is common sense, but I thought I would touch on it. Remember, this is NOT for kitchen use, the thicker the blade, the better the knife.

8. Handles: Wood and leather wrapped is always my first choice. Why? I can replace it easily. However I do own and do not hesitate to use plastic, bone, antler and nylon wrapped as well and have found them useful. But if the plastic breaks you may find it difficult to repair and painful to use. Note: I have only ever had one plastic knife handle break and that was in an adventure race. My hands were very sore and blistered by the end.

9. Sheath: Again, personal preference, but I would caution against plastic for the same reasons as the handle. Cordura Nylon and Leather are my top choices.

10. Sharpening: Whatever works. I know that is not much help, but I have used everything from a rock, to a Rockwell Stone to a file. Just get it done.

If you will notice, I did not touch on blade design. I have found that to be purely personal preference with some exceptions. Fancy curved blades, Double Blades and “Fantasy” knives of any kind are useless for the most part. Suffice it to say, Drop Point, Clip Point and Tanto are all designs I consider usable in the field. Damascus Steel, Laminated, Carbon Fiber, Ceramics, all to be considered, but in my opinion, not practical for survival.

Knife Fighting: While I have been trained in some aspects of knife fighting, the one rule of thumb is this:


Win lose or draw, everyone gets cut. While in the Marines we trained with knives in sentry removal, an out and out knife fight is a really really bad situation and you just have to do your best. I can not train you here. Suffice it to say, I have been stabbed and cut more than once.

Hatchets and Axes: Here it gets a little different but not so much. Quality still applies as does metal characteristics. The thing to remember here is handle length and weight of the head. I own a Gerber Hand Axe and have used it extensively in the field and camping with my wife, but it is really hard on the hand and arm due to the small handle. If you can port it and/or have it around, get you a real axe, single bit preferably. You will be amazed how useful it is.

I am sure I missed some very good points, I am also sure you will point them out for me. I will try and answer whatever I can.


posted on Sep, 13 2009 @ 11:29 AM
While I have literally over a hundred knives, these are the ones I go to first when going on a Race, Camping or my yearly excursion into the wilderness.

(Note: I used pictures from the internet to make it easier, but if anyone would like to see the actual knife, I can take a picture and upload it. They look the same with a little more wear and tear)

This is my first choice always.



Second Choice:

(Can you tell my preference for blade design?)



Here is a great favorite, but heavy.



posted on Sep, 13 2009 @ 11:29 AM
Never leave home without this skinner. Invaluable in dinner prep:



Gerber Axe

Best Axe I have personally found:



And who am I kidding:



Please ask any questions and as I get to them I will answer if I can.


posted on Sep, 13 2009 @ 03:12 PM
Good job Semper, but what's your point?
couldn't resist.

You say blade length isn't that important for fighting but
it seems to me that it would. I have an old Coleman-western
bowie which I found to be just too damn long and heavy, the
quilllon overly wide as well. I thinned the blade a bit and
shortened it about an 1" 1/2. I also wrapped the wood handle
in leather and it works much, much better. I'm a little guy
(125lbs) so that big honker of a knife was just about useless
for me by virtue of being too heavy. It worked me to death!
Wrapping the handle kept my hand from sliding which was
quite dangerous. Wouldn't want to throw my knife away, especially
in a fight! It goes without saying then that any smooth-handled
knife can be a liability if used with sweaty hands or for any wide
swinging actions like fighting, clearing brush or chopping wood.

If anyone doesn't know the vocabulary of knives this page will
tell you all you need to know -

That little Shrade model you show is a must for skinning animals,
for everything from deer down in size I have not found a better
knife but I improved mine again by wrapping the handle with
fishing line as any leather would absorb blood. It also gives me
a good length of fishing line if I need it.

Making your own knives is not very difficult, many companies
offer premade blade blanks. If you can't find what you want -
make it! No pricey tools needed either although a belt sander
can cut some time off for you.

A former neighbor of mine, Errett Callahan teaches how to
make stone knives (amongst other items of primitve technology)
and is unsurpassed as a artist or teacher. You can see his work
here -

Thought I might throw in some quick rules too:
  • Never throw your unless it's made for that purpose
  • Never pry with your knife, the tip is the weakest point
  • Avoid cutting plastic, metal or cardboard with it - it dulls quickly
  • Like a firearm, never point it at anyone
  • For long term storage DO NOT put in sheath, chemicals for
    leather can corrode your blade!
  • Always wipe your blade clean after use. Acids, blood and oils
    from your fingers can cause rust.

    I've been using, making and engraving knives for many years,
    I might get around to posting some of my work.

    Again, great work Semper. Starred, Flagged and tagged! Thanks.

    [edit on 13-9-2009 by Asktheanimals]

  • posted on Sep, 13 2009 @ 03:22 PM
    I forgot to add that on all my tactical blades I have
    put on a bead-blast finish so that they don't shine.
    (bead blasting is like sand blasting, it dulls the finish).
    I neither have nor like any blued steel knives.
    Also a light wipe of oil will keep your blades from
    rusting up.

    In a survival situation I would probably have at least
    3 knives on me, 2 small skinning/utility knives and
    one larger fighting knife. My next knife purchase
    will be the USAF survival model, kinda like the bigger
    marine corps knife on a smaller scale.

    Any thoughts on the usefulness of top edge serrations?

    posted on Sep, 13 2009 @ 03:31 PM
    An excellent OP sir. I am by no way even marginally versed in knives but have purchased one or two for obvious non-violent activities.

    I think I may have spotted your preference and it if I'm correct it isn't that far from my own.

    My first is not technically a knife but one I consider to be of great use in a variety of tasks.

    The Kukhri, aka Ghurka knife. I have a few of these. All but two are ornamental. The 12" is with my partner, the 14" stays here.

    This is complimented by my AK47 bayonet with wire-cutter sheath. The self-amalgamating tape was added to make the handle more user friendly.

    This will hopefully be wide enough for skinning when the need arises.

    [edit on 13-9-2009 by Nirgal]

    posted on Sep, 13 2009 @ 03:37 PM
    reply to post by semperfortis

    That's a beautiful knife (Aitor). Wish I had come to you for knife advice before I got my last one. I purchased a SOG Seal Pup. Wonderful knife, but I have to say that one is at the top of the list for my next knife.

    As for other weapons there is a couple that look good as weapons.

    One is the paul chen throwing axe. Somewhat expensive for something you might end up throwing off a cliff, but it's a nice light weight axe, and looks durable. I wish I had experience with it to speak of.

    Then there is also the cold steel survival shovel. It's a small handle shovel, that has a nice temper and clean edge for an easy cut. One of these things can be used as a shovel, a melee weapon, an axe for cutting wood, or a throwing weapon as well.

    There are two knives I can also think of, in terms of survival knives.Both going on the same premise, the Coldsteel Bushman (I think) and the SOG spirit. These are knives essentally, although with a hollow hilt so that they can be easily turned int a speak. Good for both fighting and hunting I'd imagine.

    posted on Sep, 13 2009 @ 03:58 PM
    Excellent post, semperfortis. I would like you to go over folding knives as well and a few recommendations. As the majority of us (including myself) don't carry around a selection of blades as (in Texas, to carry certain blades in public, especially those you've posted) it might be illegal. The most common type of utility knife would be the folding type, I would assume. Obviously, the Gerber multitool stands out, but it would be nice to get an objective view on the issue, as this will most likely be the thing that we'll be carrying in teh even of SitX.

    [edit on 13-9-2009 by Arrowmancer]

    posted on Sep, 13 2009 @ 07:41 PM
    reply to post by Asktheanimals

    You say blade length isn't that important for fighting but
    it seems to me that it would.

    Nope. Never said that.

    I neither have nor like any blued steel knives.

    I do and have used them extensively in the Marines, Adventure Racing, my Current Profession and in the wilderness to good advantage.

    Just a note: In a survival situation, unless you are Special Ops trained, you have other things to worry about then a shiny knife.

    Any thoughts on the usefulness of top edge serrations?

    I have used them and like I stated above, it depends on the serration quality and type and what yu are cutting. I've used them on small branches and trees to great effect.

    reply to post by Nirgal

    I own one but my field time with it has been disappointing. It is not really designed for all around field work due to the reverse curve in the blade.

    reply to post by Arrowmancer

    I will add a section on folding knives very soon.

    Another Note:

    I know that "Fighting" is what you all perceive as the attractive part in all this. It seems to dominate each conversation in regards to weapons. The best part your knife can play in a fight is to cut and form the spear or staff you will use to defend yourself. To catch and kill the meat you need to stay strong and yes, in a last ditch attempt to stay alive.


    You are going to get cut even if your opponent expires before you. You will not have access to modern medical care and so you will probably die as well.

    Don't, DON'T, pick your knife for fighting, pick it for what you will really be using it for. If you are serious about survival, what should be interesting you is what to eat, where is shelter, how to build shelter, how to start fire, how to store food etc.

    If you manage to get into a fight, you have failed plain and simple.

    Just my humble opinion..


    posted on Sep, 13 2009 @ 11:20 PM

    Another Note:

    I know that "Fighting" is what you all perceive as the attractive part in all this.

    I cannot disagree more.

    If I considered for one moment that fighting was attractive I would not have upped sticks to another site. You are correct about fighting though, no-one wins. If you're going into a knife fight expect to get cut.

    My choice of blades is based purely on practical needs and not the "Rambo" look.

    posted on Sep, 13 2009 @ 11:22 PM
    reply to post by Nirgal

    And that Folks, is exactly what we should all be concentrating on!!!



    posted on Sep, 14 2009 @ 12:21 AM
    Excellent thread, especially for those of us just learning about knives. I never gave handles to much thought, but I realize now its very important. The Gerber folding blade I just bought, just molds it self into my hand, I feel confident that even with tired sweaty hands I could still maintain a perfect grip. My fixed blade on the other hand is kind of awkward to hold. The end of the handle digs into my pinky finger and I have to extend a bit of energy to maintain a firm grip, which would lead to my hand getting tired faster.

    posted on Sep, 14 2009 @ 12:46 AM
    Great thread! I love knives and have many.

    This is my's a vintage Randall 3-6 from early 1960. It was my grandfathers and was given to me many years's the knife that got me into knives. It served me well on many outings over the last 20 years but currently rides in my safe.


    My carbon steel knives get a coating from Tuf-Cloth, it actually bonds to the steel and creates an impenetrable barrier that repels moisture and's non toxic so the blade can still be used for food prep. On my folders (moving parts) I use Tuf-Glide which is also a dry non toxic lubricant that displaces water and dirt.

    I'm also testing Militec1 which is a top lubricant.

    As for fixed blade knives I am really impressed with the RatCutlery (YouTube) line of knives. The RC-3 or 4 or 5 or 6 are all knives I'd trust my life with.

    Anyway there is just so much to talk about with knives, I'll be looking forward to reading this thread.

    [edit on 9/14/2009 by kinglizard]

    [edit on 9/14/2009 by kinglizard]

    posted on Oct, 11 2009 @ 07:49 PM
    Great Knives Folks..

    Here are a few more I recommend and own..

    Short Blade, but very strong and versatile ..
    Schrade "Old Timer"


    Hen and Rooster
    Very expensive, but SUPER High Quality. Thick Blade and wonderful metal


    Gerber "Prodigy"
    Buck Quality, Thick Blade.. Nice Handle.. GREAT knife (A little expensive as well)


    Always remember:

    You get what you pay for...


    posted on Oct, 11 2009 @ 07:50 PM
    reply to post by kinglizard

    Randall knives are indeed a breed apart...

    Of the finest quality and workmanship...

    I have always wanted one, but never found myself in a position to buy one.


    posted on Oct, 11 2009 @ 08:02 PM
    reply to post by kinglizard

    king, that is one fine looking knife. The overall shape, especially the blade reminds me of one of two knives SF procured and was used in combat in Vietnam.

    SOG knives replicated the originals for a while, as the Recon knife.

    Beautiful. Of the roughly dozen Master knife makers, one is going to duplicate that knife for me, but do so in his handmade Damascus steel, which is nothing like I've ever seen before.

    Men come the world over, including some of the more well-known Japanese sword makers to study and learn from this guy. He's apparently a Michaelangelo of steel.

    I can't wait!

    And Semper - I'm very partial to blued, high carbon steel as well. They seem to have a bit more "give" in tough situations, especially when subjected to shock than most of the SS variety.

    [edit on 11-10-2009 by dooper]

    [edit on 11-10-2009 by dooper]

    posted on Oct, 11 2009 @ 08:22 PM
    reply to post by semperfortis

    My personal choice for a knife is drop point with a blade length below 5 inchs. I have used this for long, solo camping trips and never had any problems. It is of course good to include an axe and if possibl a nice folding saw.

    As for knife fighting, well no you can't train someone online with words, i will however add a few from my experience. I have trained heavily with knives. I know the armed forces give basic training with them, but it really is basic for most of the services. If you are very well trained and you face an opponent with no or basic training then you will cut them to ribbons without sustaining injury.

    That is of course not always true, people can get lucky. The way my instructor used to train us was by using blunt metal knives, coating the blade in red lipstick, making us all wear white clothing and then pairing us off. The great thing about this technique was that during a fight you would often not feel the training blade hit you but when you stepped in front of the mirror it was all to clear.

    This training lead to students really analysing their technique and strategy and getting cut far less. Remember if you're ina knife fight, aim for the opponents arm holding the weapon and forget anywhere else. You just need one good slah or stab to that arm and your opponent loses any and all hope of winning.

    Hope that was useful for someone.

    posted on Oct, 11 2009 @ 08:36 PM
    reply to post by dooper

    I have never owned an SOG, but been very close to buying some..

    (Think picking it up and heading to the cashier)

    I just really have had good luck and experience with K Bar, Schrade, Gerber, Buck, Case, Puma and now Hen and Rooster. Guess I have to draw the line somewhere...


    posted on Oct, 11 2009 @ 08:44 PM
    reply to post by semperfortis

    Forgot to link my current knife, well knives. I have two but they're basically carbon copies of each other.

    My knife

    posted on Oct, 11 2009 @ 08:53 PM
    Semper I like your collection but your first choice of hunting knives is pretty #ty... I have one the exact design and it only real use is psychological warfare...

    Straight edge are faaaar easier to sharpen than a huge curve and especially the inner curve... such is why 'tanto' style are so popular, they are also stronger at the tip.

    Those USMC knives are spec though

    I use to have a custom made Helle knife and it was the greatest thing I have yet find

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