Choosing the best survival knife you can afford can mean the difference between life or death in a emergency situation. It can mean the difference of being able to get the job done that it was designed to do or to be a hindering piece of junk.
Here are the things to look for in a good survival knife:
1. Full Tang- the metal blade should start at the tip and end at the butt of the handle. This allows the strongest design, rather than one that has a hollow handle where a survival kit would normally be stored. The hollow handled knives could break under strenuous applications.
2. Length- 6-12 inches. Anything longer could be in the way, unless it is a machete and you are in a jungle. In this case you should have a machete or similar and a survival knife.
3. Thickness- The blade should be 3/16 to 1/4 inch thick.
4. Steel Type- There are generally two types of metal blades- carbon steel and stainless steel. I prefer carbon steel blades because they are easier to sharpen and hold an edge longer. The only drawback is that carbon blades can rust. Stainless steel blades are harder to sharpen, are more brittle and the sharpened edge does not last as long. Stainless steel will not rust.
Stainless steel type- S60V, BG-42, S90V, CPM S30V, CPM 154
Carbon steel type- D2, A2, 01, carbon V, CPM 154
5. There are 4 basic blade geometry shapes: (see diagram)
6. The spine of the knife (top edge) should have a flat spot where it can be hit with a piece of wood to assist in cutting through wood.
7. The cutting edge of the blade should not be serrated, as this requires a special sharpening tool verses being able to just use a rock to sharpen the blade.
8. Sheath- should be of strong material, have a lanyard at the bottom for securing the knife to your leg; a belt loop; the handle securing strap should be able to keep the knife from falling out; the handle of the knife should have a hole for applying a lanyard; should have a place for a sharpening stone or tool.
One knife for one person may not be right for another. As long as you get a knife that meets the basics as listed above, you should be able to depend your life on it.
Remember- you get what you paid for. But, I have found some decent survival knives for under $30 that I would depend on in a survival situation.
Note on hollow handled knives- I have nothing against these type knives. I actually like them, as long as I realize that I am limited to how much abuse I can put them through.
Stay Prepare! Stay Alive!