I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; a good knife is the most important piece of survival gear you can carry. But what makes a good knife? What should you look for in it, to make sure that it won’t let you down when you really need it? Before looking at my choice of a survival knife, let’s talk about that.
The first absolute must in any knife that you’re going to depend on is quality. Remember, you’re trusting this tool to keep you alive. The last thing you need is to buy some cheap knife that doesn’t last. That’s why I always stick with proven brands. Oh, those Damascus steel knives out there look pretty, but they aren’t commercially made knives, so there’s no way of knowing how good each one really is.
The only knife I would trust my life to is a full-tang sheath knife. A folding knife is great for a backup, but not as a primary survival knife. Generally speaking, the thicker the steel used for the knife blade, the stronger it is. Or, to put it another way, the thicker the steel, the better the knife.
Now let’s take a look at the knife. I chose a Gerber Steadfast Fine Edge Knife as my primary survival knife for a number of reasons. First of all, I’ve always liked Gerber’s quality. Dollar for dollar, I feel you get more for your money with a Gerber knife than you do with a lot of other brands. Even though they’re a quality knife, they don’t seem to get the attention that some other brands do. That helps keep their prices reasonable.
With a 5-1/2 inch blade, it’s long enough for just about anything, without being so long as to be awkward. It’s a single-edged blade, with a sharp point. Some people like double-edged blades for survival knives, but in a lot of states they’re illegal to carry. There’s always the possibility that I’ll have a survival situation where police will still be around, such as an evacuation for a hurricane, in that case, I want my knife to be legal to carry; my Gerber is.
A lot of people go for serrated blades on survival knives, but I’ve yet to find a place where I really wanted one. The only use I know for a serrated blade is cutting rope on a sailboat. Other than that, you’re usually better off with a full edge on the blade. Two inches of serration really isn’t enough for cutting firewood or even tent poles; you’re better off using a saw.
A sharp point on the knife creates a weakness, so that is one weak point on the Gerber. However, it also comes in handy when you have to put a hole in a tarp or hide for lacing something together. So, I’d rather have the sharp point, than go for a drop point or a tanto point. A clip point gives you a sharper point, but it is weaker than a straight sharp point as well.
Finally, the Gerber has a nice rubber handle, with a sculptured grip. That makes it both easy to hand onto and comfortable to use. It’s not likely to slip from my hand while I’m using it or even if it gets wet with blood in a fight. While the sculptured handle is a bit uncomfortable when holding the knife low, with the blade up, I can still hold it firmly and I know which way the blade is pointing.
While I’m sure that there are lots of other opinions out there, I’ll stand with my Gerber. This is the best knife I’ve found, without paying a fortune. If you want a knife you can count on, take a good look at the Gerber Steadfast Fine Edge Knife.