How To Pick A Survival Knife

A GOOD KNIFE IS ALMOST ESSENTIAL FOR any sort of wilderness – or even urban survival. The actual exigency that causes you to be in a survival mode in the first place will really dictate the type of knife you carry, but there are some generalities that can be discerned based upon some assumed scenarios.



Undoubtedly this will be the first question asked, as there are predominantly two main types of knives. While it may seem controversial, realize that the folding knife should be primarily for urban survival, and should be left out of just about any discussion that isn’t about urban usage. Why? There are several good reasons for this:

  • A folding knife is a compromise. The only reason knives fold, to begin with, is concealability, period, end. No engineer, tasked with designing the perfect knife, would ever conceive of a blade with moving parts.
  • No folding knife ever deploys faster than a fixed blade knife in a life or death scenario.
  • A fixed blade knife needs no muscle memory to deploy, nor are there any special instructions required to use it or sheath it.
  • A fixed blade knife is far stronger than a folder – no folding mechanism, no matter how robust, will ever equal a solid piece of metal for strength.

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So why would a folder be good for urban survival in that case? One simple reason – legality. In many locales, a large, fixed blade knife is either frowned upon or totally illegal. Even in places where a large fixed blade knife is legal, it some locales, it must be worn completely exposed, which is a card you may not want to play. In this regard and this regard only – concealability – does the folder take the cake. A good folder will rest safely in your pocket until you are ready to use it, and no one will be the wiser.



Without getting into individual brands (which tends to be a very dogmatic debate), there are certain characteristics you should be aware of in a good survival knife, be it a fixed or folder:

  • Blade length: Realize there is no advantage in having an overly short or overly long knife. Avoid both ends of the spectrum. First, a short knife, whether fixed or folder, lacks the ability to be used defensively. Sure, there are countless internet videos of knife experts doing amazing things with 2” blades, but they are knife experts. Unless you are such an expert, go with a longer blade. Likewise, a 14” bowie knife lacks the ability to move quickly and do the sorts of mundane work that you need a survival knife to do. Ideally, a blade length in the 6-7” length is optimum. It will work, and it will fight.
  • Blade type: For a true work knife, avoid a double blade. The dull side of a single blade knife has a function, and that function is to act as a spot to pound on it when cutting through something tough. A double blade knife is an offensive weapon that isn’t suited to the sort of work you need a survival knife to do. Also, avoid blades with too fine a point as these are too fragile.
  • Avoid gimmickry: Compasses, fishhooks in the handle, and massive serrations are all fad items that have no place in a good survival knife.


In short, what you want is a good, rugged, single blade knife with a solid and meaty point. There should be nothing delicate in this knife, and it should stand up to the task of helping you survive. It should be as much of a tool as it is a weapon!


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