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Monday, April 13, 2009

Knives and You, it's all bout the edge....

Hey folks, how are your knives? Sharp I hope but if not pay attention, I have some information to share. Knives are an essential part of our preparation for a future in which your regular Henkel Kitchen knife might not be sufficient. For this discussion I'll be breaking knives into 3 categories: Camping, hunting and Survival. I choose this break out because after looking at all the scenarios I could think of I was able to generally group them that way. Kind of boiling it down to essentials if you will. Grab a cup of coffee while I pontificate......

Camping Knives: These knives should be of the multi-purpose variety. A camping/backpacking knife will be used for general cutting and maybe some whittling of an emergency tent stake or cutting some branches so a straight edge blade is necessary. If you are fishing and you have a need to clean your fish then you may feel a requirement for a serrated blade for cutting and or filleting the fish. Now you could pack separate knives but in a scenario of backpacking or camping space and weight are a concern, so a multi bladed knife serves the situation very well. A favorite for this class of knives if a Leatherman like tool that provides you with other blades, scissors, or pliers. Good choices for these types of knives are the previously mentioned Leatherman, The Zillatool, an Everyday Buck Knife, or one of the new Ignitor series. These are just some examples to get you started.

Hunting Knives: This is a special purpose knife that really depends on the user. I can point to some very specific purposes and how they affect the use and utility of this type of knife, but the acquiring of one is a exercise in comfort and competence. Generally speaking a Hunting knife will be a straight edge knife with a strong blade that is fixed and made of full-tang premium 440A stainless steel. Stainless Steel will not rust but it will corrode if you don't take care of it. These knives are used for skinning and field dressing animals, possibly even to cut through bone, so a sturdy blade and handle are of utmost importance. You won't need a serrated blade here as they aren't meant to be used on the type of action that occurs during the dressing of an animal. Small points have a way of breaking of when you use a twisting action so, once again, a stout straight edged blade will suit you well. Make sure the Blade is fixed, folding knives have to many nooks and crannies that can hide blood, fur and bacteria that will only mess you up later on. You'll want to have a small guard as well to make sure your hand won't slip while your elbow deep in blood. And finally the handle should be comfortable and easy to grip. Some new materials that are now available for the grips are Micarta, hardwoods, or stacked leather. Good examples of Hunting knives are CRKT's Russ Krommer Series, Gerber Freeman, and the Buck Vanguard Series.

Survival Knives: This class, to me anyway, is the biggest grouping of knives simply because the term "Survival" can me pretty much anything to anyone. So consequently you can throw any knife into this pile. Basically, survival knives are an evolution of military issued knives that were meant to help downed Airmen and sailors survive a hostile environment until they could be rescued. Today we benefit from many years of these types of knives being developed by both the military and survival experts. Survival knives take into consideration all of the features of a Camping or Hunting knife, yet may not be uniquely suited for either of those purposes. But, we can address the general needs of a survival knife and possibly define the features that you will need to include when you go shopping for that elusive companion to your post apocalyptic days. These knives can be of multiple varieties, Fixed Blade, Folding Blade, Multi-purpose, Multi-tool, and machete-variations. The blade should, in this case, be a High Carbon Steel blade as they are easier to sharpen and hold an edge longer. Try to avoid Stainless steel in this category as they can be difficult to sharpen well and the features of Stainless are not as well suited for survival as they are for Hunting. It all comes down to your local and your preference an location.
For New Jersey it's hard to define a location specific survival knife as we are so diverse. Those folks that live in areas such a Newark, Camden, Trenton, will all need multi-tool type knives, or at least a multi-tool as a companion to the survival knife. A survival or escape scenario from an urban setting could require tools. Examples of of these are mentioned above. If you feel that a multi-tool isn't much of a knife (I agree with you), then you can always carry a companion blade that is more useful for cutting, remembering that it is more weight to carry of course. Those of us in the reaches of Morris, Hunterdon and Sussex Counties will all want a Multi purpose type knife as our area would require more field or woodsman type scenarios. some good examples of Survival knives are Ka-Bar Becker Companion, Bark River Bravo-1 (a little pricey), Gerber LMF-II, Leatherman Wave, CRKT Zillatool, and a Becker Knife & Tool CM-BK7

All in all this topic is so unique to the user it's hard to go in depth unless your a major knife expert. So please take some time to shop and get educated before you purchase and plan. And always remember, safety first, there's no 911 to call after the zombies arrive.

Useful links and Videos: Pack & Carry Video, Emergency Sharpening, How to Choose a survival knife


Super said...

As the result of this post I just bought camping survival knife from! Many users rated the product and gave it good ratings. The ratings were useful and I got a good deal for the product from the same site.

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