A good-quality knife is one of the most vital instruments to have, according to most bushcraft instructors. Therefore, it is important to learn how you should select a bushcraft knife based on various principles because your knife will become your best wingman in the wild.
While there are numerous ways to make a cutting tool (such as knapping a piece of flint or finding a piece of broken glass in a roadside ditch), taking the time now to shop for and pick a knife that meets your demands and your budget will save you a lot of grief and stress later.
Having a good bushcraft knife
A bushcraft knife is similar to a multi-tool, and it must accomplish multiple tasks with a single design. A bushcraft knife, like a multi-tool, may be used to do things its makers never imagined.
Lighting a fire with a ferrocerium rod, battoning firewood, cleaning game, offering self-defense against predators, and assisting with shelter construction are all duties that a knife is supposed to perform in the wild.
By following the same multi-tool analogy, a knife may not be ideal for every situation, but it may be the only instrument you have with you.
Most of us would probably prefer to process firewood with an axe, start a fire with a simple lighter, and clean dinner with a full set of butcher’s tools if given the option. In the absence of that equipment, we rely on our knife to manage everything.
When it comes to choosing a bushcraft knife, there are practically thousands of possibilities on the market. Trying to narrow down the list to just a few options might be intimidating.
When it comes to your bushcraft knife, it’s better to pick a big chopper or a little carver?
The blade of your bushcraft should be made from carbon steel or stainless steel?
I propose narrowing your selection to four or five knives and then looking for them in stores so you can view and try them in person.
When it comes down to it, knife choosing is a very personal decision. It should feel good in your hand because you won’t want to use it if it doesn’t.
There are various characteristics or factors that should be taken into account when looking for a high-quality bushcraft knife.
Tips for choosing a bushcraft knife
Fixed blade knife versus folder knife
This is not really a debatable choice when picking a bushcraft knife. While a folding knife is useful for many tasks, a fixed-blade knife is required for batoning firewood. Furthermore, you would not want to confront a predator with merely a folding knife.
Is it feasible to survive in the wilderness using only a folding knife for cutting?
Sure, and I know a few survival teachers that could pull it off. However, you’re probably not one of these people.
Stick with fixed blades until you’ve accumulated several years of solid real-world experience out in the field.
The size of your knife
All too often, inexperienced survivalists and bushcrafters will choose the largest knife their money can buy. They’ve seen all of the man-vs-nature movies and concluded that a survival knife must be massive in order to perform correctly.
In fact, you probably don’t need a huge knife at all. For many routine camp jobs, a large knife is clunky and uncomfortable to use.
Most survival experts recommend a blade length of 4 to 5 inches. Add in a comfortable-to-hold handle, and you’re looking at an overall length of 8 to 9 inches.
Next, consider the thickness of the blade. The thicker the blade, as should be evident, the stronger it will be. A thicker blade, on the other hand, makes for a heavier knife.
Most people will pick a knife with a blade thickness of 1/4 to 3/8 inch. Such a blade is sturdy enough without being so thick that it can be turned into a boat anchor.
Blade profile for your bushcraft knife
There are approximately 18 to 20 various blade profiles, depending on how particular you want to be about differentiating between them. The “profile” of the blade is its form.
Many of the profiles on the market today are practically useless for a bushcraft knife. Avoid knives with both edges honed, for example. Also, double-edged knives are not suitable for batoning. They can also cause issues while processing game and are outlawed in some locations.
One of the best options for such a knife is a straight-back profile, in which the back of the blade runs in a straight line from the handle to the point.
Another type of profile is the drop-point profile, which has the back of the blade dip slightly right before the tip. This lowers the knife’s point, resulting in a stronger tip.
The blade’s spine should be flat, not rounded. Many bushcrafters may scrape sparks from a Ferro rod with the spine of their knife. With a rounded spine, this is nearly impossible.
You can also use a squared spine if you want to scrape tinder from fatwood and other materials, preserving the edge of your blade.
The blade grind
The contour of the knife’s edge is referred to as the “grind.” There are a few options, but only a few are actually ideal for bushcraft activities.
The flat grind, particularly the flat Scandi grind, is extremely popular. When you look down the blade from the tip, you will notice that both the flat and the flat Scandi are fashioned like the letter V. The entire blade tapers to make the V in the true flat grind, from the back to the edge.
The V in the Scandi grind begins more than halfway between the rear and the edge. The “bevel” is the place where the blade tapers.
These are both powerful edges that can handle most chores with ease. Furthermore, they are rather simple to sharpen, even in the wilderness, provided you have a sharpening stone or other tools with you.
A lot of people prefer a convex grind because it produces a very hard and durable edge. The bevels on this grind are rounded rather than flat, as on the Scandi grind.
These rounded, or convex, bevels provide edge strength. However, sharpening the convex edge can be tough until you get the hang of it. In this sense, a strop and sharpening compound will be your greatest friends.
The type of steel utilized to produce the knife is, of course, crucial when picking a bushcraft knife.
Iron and carbon are the primary components of all steel. The other ingredients decide the sort of steel from there. While there are numerous possibilities in this regard, it all boils down to one simple decision: stainless steel or high carbon steel.
Stainless steel contains a high concentration of chromium. This component is responsible for the stainless steel’s high corrosion resistance. If you are working in moist environments or near seawater, stainless steel may be the ideal option. Choose 440C stainless steel, which is extremely durable.
Because high-carbon steel lacks the chromium found in stainless steel, it is more prone to rust if not properly maintained. However, 1095 carbon steel is a popular knife steel for a reason: it keeps an edge wonderfully without being difficult to sharpen. Simply apply a little coat of oil to the blade to prevent it from rusting and corrosion.
The “tang” of the knife is the section that extends into the handle. The tang is also known as the “shank.”
When it comes to the tang, modern knives are produced in a variety of ways. When the steel goes from the blade all the way to the butt of the knife, this is called a “full” tang.
This is by far the most durable knife construction and the best alternative for bushcraft. A “rattail” tang spans nearly the whole length of the handle but is only about half as wide as the blade. The majority of Mora knives are made in this manner.
The third alternative is a blade that is mechanically attached to the handle, such as with a nut and bolt. Most hollow-handle knives fall into this category. However, with a few exceptions, these are useless for bushcraft.
Picking the right handle
The selection of a handle is mostly a question of personal preference. Of course, you want a handle that won’t harm your hand or be so thick that it makes controlling the knife difficult.
Many knives now have Micarta handles, which are composed of a mix of paper, linen, canvas, and other materials. It is particularly resistant to wear. It’s also usually tough enough that it won’t slip out of your hand when wet.
G10 is another common synthetic handle material that can be machined into virtually any texture or shape.
Wood is another popular handle material. This is also an excellent alternative, particularly if you are worried about the knife’s appearance as well as its performance. There are some extremely lovely exotic wood handles available.
Picking the right sheath
Kydex and leather are the two most common sheath materials on the market today.
Kydex is a thermoformed plastic polymer used to make holsters, sheaths, and other items. It is waterproof and incredibly durable, and it will not stretch or lose shape over time.
Leather sheaths, on the other hand, are significantly quieter. When withdrawing a knife from a leather sheath, there is almost no noise, whereas a click-clack is frequently heard with a Kydex sheath.
In any case, ensure sure your knife is tightly held in place by the sheath, even if it is turned upside down. A sheath with attachment points beyond the belt loop is also advantageous because it provides you with more carry alternatives.
Your bushcraft knife may be the most significant tool purchase you ever make. Do your research to ensure that the knife you purchase is suitable for you since this tool may one day save your life.
Don’t pick a knife just because it looks good, and call it a day. Check how it feels in your hands if the blade is strong and suited for the tasks it needs to perform, and make sure you can carry it with ease no matter where you find yourself.
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