Survival Knives

Are survival knives the single most important survival tool?

It’s true that a good knife is essential to surviving a number of emergency situations.

While training in the Philippines (as reported in Living Ready magazine) a Navy SEAL decided that for its versatility around camp, while hunting and for self-defense, the bolo knife cannot be beaten. Often, it was the only tool the native Filipino tribesmen carried on their treks into the wilderness.

Bolos are like machetes but sturdier, often with a thick curved blade making them ideal for rough tasks that would destroy a lesser blade, like chopping or prying. And let’s face it, if a Navy SEAL approves, it must be good.

But then, not many of us routinely carry bolos in everyday life. We’re more likely to have a small pocket knife or multi-tool than a 20-inch carbon-steel blade capable of small-scale deforestation. In fact, a smaller, more delicate knife would be far more useful, say, for arrow making or for use in emergency surgery.

The question remains: What type of knife is best? Ultimately, it really depends on the specific survival situation.

  • Would the weapon be used primarily for hunting?
  • Self defense
  • Bushwhacking
  • Tool making
  • Medical applications
  • Would it be used in an urban setting or in the wilderness? And what type of wilderness? Desert? Jungle? Arctic

Most will agree that knives make survival a heck of a lot easier regardless of environment or emergency situation. But with the right skills, raw materials and time, a resourceful survivalist could fashion his own serviceable blade. Pretty hard to construct a functioning rifle out of wood or stone.

And a gun would undoubtedly be more valuable while hunting large game or defending oneself against armed looters following a natural disaster or NCAA basketball final.

But what about the bow, blowgun, or (let’s cover all bases here) Chinese throwing stars? They all have their merits too.

Well-prepared survivalists would have a variety of weapons on hand, each suited for a specific task. By analyzing how we use survival weapons, we can determine which would be most useful for particular scenarios.

Broadly speaking, survival knives and other blades are either designed for fine or rough work. Survival guns and other projectiles should be divided into close range or long-range use.

It is best to have a mix of these categories when preparing for an unexpected survival situation. For example:

  • Folding/pocket knife (fine cutting)
  • Bolo knife or camp ax (rough cutting)
  • .22 rifle (long-range projectile)
  • .357 magnum revolver (short-range projectile)

This list of course should be tailored for specific situations. If you plan on hunting caribou, a larger caliber rifle would probably be a better choice than a .22. (However, many large-game hunters take their prey with nothing but a few well-placed .22 shots to the head or heart.) If stealth is your goal, a bow or blowpipe could be substituted for a noisy rifle.

In self-defense applications, large caliber, short barrel pistols and revolvers work well at close range. Stout fixed blade self-defense knives like tantos are designed more for penetration than slicing. Tasers that put out 1 million volts will adjust the attitude of any would-be attacker.

When building a survival weapons arsenal, stick with the weapons with which you’re familiar, comfortable and know how to use properly. If you’re an expert bowman, pack that in lieu of the rifle you’ve never fired. When you’re in a survival situation, knowing your equipment boosts your confidence level when you need it most.

Imagine the problems you’ll encounter when preparing for an emergency and pack a combination of survival knives and guns (or other types of weapons) that will solve them.