How to Pick the Ideal Survival Knife

The Survival Knife by PKS | The Best Survival Knife

Man has always depended on various cutting tools to meet survival needs such as food, shelter, water, and fire. Today, we refer to that tool as “survival knife.” 

A survival knife, just as the name implies, is a tool that you will need in order to rescue yourself, when the need arises. Its name describes its abilities and qualities as it can be used to perform any kind of task under very critical situations. Here’s a list of things you can do with your survival knife:

  1. Splitting
  2. Cutting and slicing
  3. Digging
  4. Self-defense
  5. Fire Making
  6. Food Prep
  7. Building Shelter
  8. Hammering
  9. First Aid Tool
  10. Hunting Weapon
  11. Prying Tool
  12. Make-shift screwdriver
  13. Signaling

You can check out if you are looking at getting a survival knife.

But before then, there are various factors you need to consider. This is because some standard knife blades do not have the features that you may need when in distress. This article clearly describes the things you need to consider before picking your ideal survival knife.

Top Things to Consider Before Buying a Survival Knife

White River Firecraft 5" CPM S35VN Steel Micarta Survival Knife-In Stock

Here are the things you need to put into consideration before buying a survival knife:

1. The Knife’s Tang

A tang is the back part of the knife’s blade that connects to the handle. An ideal survival knife needs to have a full tang. That is, it should elongate to the handle base of the knife. This will provide a good grip when you are holding it. 

Also, a full tang knife will not break easily because the blade and the handle are infused into a single piece. If you get a cheaper knife, the tang will only be attached to the top of the knife’s handle. That way, it can easily break when used to carry out tough tasks.

2. The Handle

Different knives come with different types of handles.  Some of them are polymer, while others are usually hard rubber. Avoid knives with hollow handles, they do not have full tang. Just as we mentioned earlier, knives that are not full tang are not ideal for survival. 

You can go for one with a true lanyard hole on the handle. A lanyard will allow you fasten the knife to your belt. You can also have it wrapped around your wrist or looped over your thumb.

3. The Blade Metal

Generally, survival knives come in 2 kinds of steel – carbon or stainless. However, both steel types have numerous variations. While there is a big debate on which is better, we will let you decide what you want. But here are the major differences:

Knives that are made of carbon steel usually hold their edges longer than the stainless steel. But when exposed to harsh weather conditions, they will rust quickly. 

On the contrary, stainless steel knives are highly indestructible. You can expose them to any weather condition, and they will take the beating but will come out without getting rusted. However, some people claim that stainless steel blades will quickly lose their edges compared to carbon. Some others claim that is difficult to sharpen a stainless steel blade. This article discusses more about the differences between carbon steel and stainless steel knives.

4. The Blade Design

The ideal blade design is also debatable, whether it is a straight or a serrated blade; a drop point or a tanto point. 

A knife with straight blade can be used to chop wood and is very easy to sharpen. If you do not have a whetstone, you can use any smooth stone to sharpen it. Serrated blades, on the other hand, usually require a special sharpening tool. But even when the knife is not exactly sharp, it can slice through cords.

Drop point knives provide good control; they are ideal for hunting. Tanto point knives are not exactly ideal for hunting but they have different angles which you will need for other tactical purposes. 

5. The Thickness and Length of the Blade

In choosing a survival knife, you need to consider the size. If the knife is small, it will be easy to carry around. However, it cannot be used for heavy tasks such as wood chopping. But having a large knife can as well substitute the need to carry a hatchet. While large knives are helpful, they can be burdensome when they are attached to your belt all day.

The length of many survival knives is between 6 – 12 inches. However, knives that are around 9 – 10 inches are usually difficult to carry around. Furthermore, the thickness of an ideal survival knife will be between 3/16 to 1/4 inch. Knives with such thickness can withstand general knife abuse such as batoning, prying, and cracking.

An ideal survival knife does not need a flexible blade. If the blade has a lot of flex, it will split before it even splits the wood.

6. The Sheath

This part is usually overlooked but it is important. The survival knife cannot help you if you cannot carry it. So, the sheath needs to comfortable and quite sturdy. 


There are various survival knives in the market, but each one is unique. So, you need to decide on what features are most important to you. Most importantly, a survival knife will not use itself; the real value of the knife is in your hands – when you use it. Keep practicing how to use yours. You never can tell when the need to survive will arise.