Some of your most basic survival tools are your cutting and chopping tools. These oftentimes serve extra duties as digging and prying tools. If you’re putting together a basic survival kit for bushcraft or even urban survival, having the right tools in it is vital. Here are some of the common survival tools and some qualities about them to consider.
There are many different styles of knives that are popular for survival and bushcraft use. They include the Bowie knife, which was designed from the ground up as a knife suitable for hunting, utility cutting, and fighting. The Gerber Mark II knife is another popular knife with survivalists. This is primarily a fighting knife, however, and double-edged dagger blades, such as the Mark II’s, are impractical for utility tasks. As a fighter, however, it’s highly regarded.
Small hunting knives are enormously practical and you should have one, no matter what other tools you carry. A 5″ to 8″ blade is very practical. Where hunting knives are concerned, remember that, in a rural survival situation, you’ll probably be eating more small game than large. Make sure your knife is small and sharp enough to make cleaning such a game easy. You can clean a larger game with smaller knives but doing the opposite is very difficult.
Where steel is concerned, high carbon steel is very popular. You can get knives with 1075 and better high carbon steel, which takes and keeps a very sharp edge, for around $20. Stainless steel is another option, and steels such as 440C, 8A and ATS-55 are good higher-end options. High carbon steel can stain and needs to be kept free of moisture as much as possible.
Hatchets are very basic survival tools. They don’t need to be particularly sharp, as the force of the impact and the weight of the blade do a lot of the work. They can be sharpened with a file when needed, however.
Some hatchets have extra tools added to them. They may, for instance, have a hammer on the back or a digging tool on the back. These are handy tools to have around and they’re very inexpensive.
These were very popular during the days of the American Frontier and it was for good reason. They’re versatile, sturdy, and, if need be, they’re extremely effective and deadly hand-to-hand combat tools. They work for everything from prying to chopping to digging. Compared to regular hatchets, their longer handles give the user more leverage when hammering. Many tomahawks have a hammer opposite the blade side, which is a practical addition for both utility and defense. Some tomahawks even have a pipe bowl and are hollowed out so that they can be smoked!
Machetes are a long knife that is most associated with Latin America. They are practical, durable, and versatile tools and incredibly lethal weapons. Machetes that are made out of high carbon steel or high-end stainless steel can take a wicked edge. They are typically sharpened at a steep angle, however, which means they’re usually duller than smaller knives, but that their edge will hold up to a lot of abuse. The bottom third of a machete blade is usually not sharpened, to avoid having your hand slip and get slashed.
Kukri knives originated in Nepal and are carried most famously by British Gurkha units. They are forward angled, curved knives that are usually over 12″ long but are much shorter than machetes. They are fearsome weapons and this blade design has proved itself over and over again as a combat tool in many wars.
Kukri knives, despite their reputation, are actually utility knives. They’re excellent for chopping and cutting and can make short work of kindling for firewood and other tough jobs. They’re also small enough to be used for some bushcraft tasks that require agility and precision. These are great all-around options. These are small enough that they’re also very light, which is an important consideration when you’re in the wilderness.
No matter which tools you choose, learn to sharpen them. It takes a long time to learn this skill but, once you learn it, you can make a cheap knife cut as well as some very expensive knives. Make sure that you get appropriate sharpening tools for your blade, as well.
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