The Quest for the Perfect Knife

Almost a year ago, I began a conversation with Daniel Shaw–one of the occasional contributors to GunsAmerica–about his choice of knife. We were at a handgun training class, and he brought out his vest to show some of his students what his rifle class would cover. There were the typical hard plates and MOLLE webbing, magazine pouches, etc., and a knife–just what you’d expect to find on the chest-rig of a Marine who is no stranger to combat.

Almost what you’d expect. The knife was relatively small. If my memory serves, it was an ESEE–maybe in the 4″ length, at most.

One of his students was giving him hell about the small knife. The gist of the remonstrance concerned the diminutive nature of Shaw’s choice in a pugilistic blade. Size matters, this dude was saying, and he found it hard to believe that a seasoned Marine would choose such a namby-pamby little knife.

Does ESEE have it right with the simple design? We'll be putting it to the test to see.

Does ESEE have it right with the simple design? We’ll be putting it to the test to see.

This is, of course, a testosterone issue. Shaw has seen a lot of combat. His gear and gun choices are built on practical experience. And his knife is no exception. He offered this explanation: small knives don’t weigh as much. Weight is a crucial factor when you carry your own gear. Shaw went on to describe the uneasy feeling he and others had when they’re out on patrol, encountering the corpses of America’s enemies after firefights–many of which were in possession of big-fat-American made “combat” knives.

For years, the Ka-Bar has been the image of the American fighting knife. And the design has been highly effective. Read our examination here.

For years, the Ka-Bar has been the image of the American fighting knife. And the design has been highly effective. Read our examination here. Is it me, or does the blade look off-center in this image?

It seems that the new recruits, those just showing up for their first tours, were enamored of big blades. Once they were on patrol, humping the weight, they discarded anything seen as unessential–all in an effort to lighten the load. The big knives, which look romantic on the big-screen, weigh a ton. As they were ditched on the side of the road, they ended up in the hands of ISIS, Al Qaeda, who-ever. This seems like a bad idea to me, and I’ve never had to face such a grim scenario.

Here's some of what's to come (and some that have already been scratched from the list). Knives by Ka-Bar, SOG, Ontario, Browning, ESEE,

Here’s some of what’s to come (and some that have already been scratched from the list). Knives by Ka-Bar, SOG, Ontario, Browning, ESEE,

A quick glance shows the wide variety of options available.

A quick glance shows the wide variety of options available.

So what to carry?

That seems to be a legitimate question. I’ve had a lot of experience with the subject, albeit from a more back-to-nature perspective. I used to do a lot of work in the woods of New Mexico, and worked as a guide in the Boundary Waters for a while, too. I’ve carried my fair share of gear. I have hiked, literally, thousands of miles. And even though I wasn’t facing human enemies, I was still concerned with self defense. And I was most assuredly concerned about the perfect blend of weight and functionality.

And I wasn’t the only one. Once, I  took a crew of Boy Scouts up into the Canadian wilderness for ten days. I had done a shake-down of their gear, but obviously didn’t get them on the water fast enough. At camp the first night, I saw a Scout pull out a rather large knife. After a brief conversation, I had him empty his pack. All told, he was packing 9 knives and 3 multi-tools. “Be Prepared,” he said.

This Browning made pig-sticker is evocative of the old Fairbairn Sykes. But it is made for one thing, and one thing only--sticking pigs. Not on the short list.

This Browning made pig-sticker is evocative of the old Fairbairn Sykes. But it is made for one thing, and one thing only–sticking pigs. Not on the short list.

Be Prepared

The kid weighed 90 pounds. He was useless on the miles of portages we had to cross.

So how much is enough? I’m not going to voice my opinion yet. I own a very wide variety of knives. I’m also a closet bladesmith. I’ve made knives from the stock reduction method and by forging them from raw steel. I’m proficient with pattern welding. I know my knives. I have some favorites, but I’m approaching this question with a clean slate. I won’t be reviewing and of the knives I’ve already come to trust for this. If one of them enters into the mix, I’ll pass it off to another reviewer.

And we’ll start with this question. How much knife can you carry before it gets to be excessive? When does it get to be too big?

This is a one-knife solution (or maybe a two knife solution for those of you who really could never go out into the world with only one). Either way, we’re talking about the main blade. We’re looking for a blade that is the perfect balance of form and function. We need a knife that is capable of fighting, splitting some kindling, skinning a whitetail, gutting a fish…. The list could go on forever. But you understand what we’re going for, I think.

And here it is.  Damn! If I only had a time machine.

Now this is a fighting knife. I had one just like it. I actually had ten, at least. They don't age well. But to hell with prepping! This thing has everything you could ever need for serious long term survival.

Now this is a fighting knife. I had one just like it. I actually had ten, at least. They don’t age well. But to hell with prepping! This thing has everything you could ever need for serious long term survival.

This model was popular with the Scouts in my troop in the late 80s. It breaks, too. No-tang.

This model was popular with the Scouts in my troop in the late 80s. It breaks, too. No-tang.

One blade to rule them all?

We’re breaking it up into categories, too, by price-point. Some are sticklers for the “made in the USA” label. Others have enough money that they can order up whatever they want, exactly, from any of the myriad number of custom bladesmiths out there. We’re going to try to find representative knives from a variety of categories (and price-points). And we’ll put them through some testing.

We'll also be looking at how the knives can and should be worn. That can be a big factor in deciding to buy a knife.

We’ll also be looking at how the knives can and should be worn. That can be a big factor in deciding to buy a knife.

Mostly, we’ll talk about design. Steel is important, and can start some contentious debates. For me, steel is like handgun calibers. Some are better than others. Any one of them is better than nothing. When it comes to blade shape, thickness, edge geometry, metallurgic composition, tempering, handle material, sheaths, tang design, finish… I’ve got my preferences.

And we’ve been doing our research. GunsAmerica went to the Blade show this year. Blade is kind of like SHOT show mixed with a big local gun show. Everyone was there, along with hordes of knife fans. We came back with some serious ideas. In the coming months, we’ll be launching a new series that dives deep into these questions.

We began this with a close look at the Ka-Bar design. If you don’t know the Ka-Bar, I’d like to know which rock you’ve been living under. There are too many positive examples of its effectiveness to even begin to think about criticizing the design. That said, I doubt it would make our short list. The stacked leather handle is enough to strike it from some of our short lists. The leather washers hide a narrow tang with reasonably square shoulders (great for saving steel in wartime, bad if you want a knife you can pry with). But it light. It is easy to maintain. It will stand as the benchmark of success in this quest.

So tell us what you think? How much knife do you carry?

{ 40 comments… add one }
  • Christopher E. Cole December 17, 2016, 5:15 pm

    Iran through everything from a buck 110, had a good many Busse knives an=s well as many from the Busse group. Then I came back less costly knives that do everything the Busse knives do except for the stupid stuff like battoning steel I beams and being shot with .50 BMG. I have used the Kabar a ton and have yet to breaks it, but my go to knives are a leatherman multi tool and a rat 4 from swamprat knives. Sometimes ill toss a scrapmuk in the bag if butchering critters is a possibility. My EDC is a swiss army knife.

  • Hastings Lamb October 25, 2016, 3:10 am

    I am neither a knife maker or collector. Rather I consider myself a knife user. Over time I learned what suits me and I can best handle. In normal every day carry, a pocket knife with 2 blades and a few tools, like a boy scout knife or swiss army knife have been my mainstay (prefer the Victorionox). While in the military, I saw many guys carry a large bowie like or styled knife. I even tried a few and ordered one special built by Randall back in the 60s while ‘nam was going. Toted it about for a few months then sent it home. Still have it. As I got older – am now 70 – and doing a lot of hunting both big and small game, never found the need for anything longer than a 4 to 5 inch blade. My overall favorite is a Ruana hunting knife I bought in Montana. It stays sharp, requires little maintenance and has served me well. Yeah, I have other brands, cheap and moderately expensive but don’t have much need for fighting knives or giant pig stickers that weigh you down. Just my 2 cents worth.

  • Nick August 31, 2016, 2:31 am

    The post contains good information about knife. I also have a knife, that was given by my brother. I always used to carry that knife in my shoes. When i go out with my friends.

  • Ronnie D September 9, 2015, 3:57 pm

    read your article. interesting reading this. i have been exposed to knives since a young kid. made some. used some. collected some. sold knives for 18 years now. combat experience prevails. USMC. NEVER would i EVER allow a Marine
    to abandon his gear. how stupid. it must have been the Army doing this stunt.
    to the point – relativity rapidly claims first cabin at all times. A soldier needs a good knife if confronted with hand to hand
    combat. the idea being it will occur more than once. a civilian will be confronted with hand to hand combat, knife in hand,
    to protect his home, self, or family but once in his life if ever……and can get by with a nice factory knife UNDER $100.
    myself i want two knives. if both are razor sharp all things fall before them. a razor sharp Bowie CAN FILLET and so can a decent pocket knife do a fillet. both cut wood. if they cut wood they can certainly cut my enemy. i tell my preppers you want at least two knives then at all times. YOU mentioned prying – caused me to shudder – WOW. there is no knife that is a pry bar. neither are they screwdrivers or taken for granted throwers. if you want a pry bar buy a pry bar!! if you want a screwdriver buy that. if you want to throw a knife buy competent throwers of at least 9 inches in length – preferably 12 inches or more.
    i carried the k-bar. carried it in ALL manner of conditions – it much deserves more praise than you thus far gave it.

  • Damon September 4, 2015, 5:27 pm

    Hunting, I always carry a Kabar/Cutco fixed blade with the rubber hilt in a Kydex sheath. Hardly ever use it. The workhorse is a folding Irwin utility knife, that carries five extra blades in the handle. Skinning, caping, cleaning small game, fish, or birds, there’s nothing better than using a fine, razorsharp blade until it isn’t sharp, then swapping it out for a new one. The Irwin, and a pocketful of nitrile gloves (who likes picking up their firearm with bloody hands?), are the must-haves when it comes to the chore part of hunting.

  • sawmiller August 31, 2015, 8:14 pm

    Good old fashioned ice pick will kill just about anything that walks or swims, and an 8 inch length of surgical tubing held in place with zip-ties for a sheath gives you an all up weight of less than 3 ounces. Then you you have spare weight for whatever knife you want for your other chores.

  • Doug August 31, 2015, 7:36 pm

    I’ve carried a Schrade LB 7 and Lb 5 lock back for near 40 years. They have never let me down in the big game woods and camp. Simple and tough to the point!

  • Scott Pentheny August 31, 2015, 7:05 pm

    It depends on what I’m planning on doing for my knife choice. (I have a bit of a hoarding problem there) But if I was wo just walk away and plan on never coming back it would be a custom that I have from http://www.valhallacustomkydex.com/ (Paired with My ESEE Izula, but for an “Off the shelf” option I’d go with an ESEE 4 in carbon steel (Carbon Steel is a strong personal choice). I have (by choice) gone out for a week with just my Izula and the cloths on my back just to see if I could. The 2 5/8 ” blade built my shelter, split my firewood, cooked my food and caught some of it (speared some nice rabbits with it and had a chance at a deer but I passed)
    The Perfect knife depends more on what’s in your head than in your hands. My Izula lives around my neck with what I consider my “Survival Kit” (look on YouTube channel Colhane and check out his PSK video mine is close to his) Personally I think an ESEE-4 will serve for what almost anyone’s needs for survival.
    Bushcraftusa.com has some really great tips lessons and ideas on survival for those interested…

    • Troy September 3, 2015, 4:08 am

      I love my izula. It’s always on my belt or around my neck. Tough little knife, definitely gets the job done. Between the Izzy and my esee 6, I’d say I’ve got things covered.

  • BladeBoyBob August 31, 2015, 7:03 pm

    If you want a lightweight, do-it-all knife, there are only a select few that can even hope to fill that role imho. Everything here is under 6″ and sits nice in scout or traditional carry.
    1) Spyderco Aqua Salt (100% impervious to rust) 115.00
    2) Ontario SK-5 Blackbird (154cm stainless steel) 118.00
    3) ESEE 4/ESEE 6 (1095 high carbon, will rust if not maintained) 90.00/118.00
    4) Becker BK-16 (1095 Cro-Van high carbon, will rust if not maintained) 70.00
    5) SOG Seal Pup Elite (a bit “tacticool”, but an amazing field knife regardless AUS 8) 70.00
    6) SOG Strongarm (420HC steel, needs maintenance. Great sheath for scout carry) 50.00
    7) Glock Field Knife (an under-rated performer for the budget conscious) 28.00

    If I had to pick one, it would be the Spyderco.. A knife impervious to rust is great peace of mind. My second pick would be the ESEE 6. Although I would be perfectly happy with any in that list as a primary.

  • Dan August 31, 2015, 4:22 pm

    The perfect knife is for utility and durability. 7/8 tang down to a slightly rounded point , with a three inch blade. Best steel available to hold and take a new edge. S30v steel is very good. Then at least a 5 inch hilt, big enough to hold on to well. You can,t do it all with a knife, period. One of the new hollow handled kerahaw hatchets weigh nothing but as long as your not busting rocks they will handle the chopping and hewing that needs done and will retake an edge with a stone you pick up out of the creek some where. You can make whatever else you need with these.

  • Rod August 31, 2015, 4:18 pm

    I have a 1904 Schraden, Walden New York U.S.A. In perfect condition, and I have a Western that was made during WW11 they both are fixed blade hunting style with Stag handles and the Schraden has the sheath in perfect condition also and both are for sale, but serious offers ONLY please

  • Robert Lee August 31, 2015, 2:18 pm

    EDC is a ZT Hinderer folder with spring assist open and a small sheath knife in a dangler that tucks into a pocket while on a belt. Either a Bark River clip-point Gunny or a LT Wright Bushcrafter in the sheath with a good firesteel…These are practical mid-priced knives that will no doubt last longer than I will…the ZT pops out and easy opens for just about anything and if you are going to pull up a chair and stay a while the fixed blades get it done. All these are a joy to use. A LeatherMan Charge is usually close at hand if not actually being carried.

  • Minuteman/vet August 31, 2015, 2:14 pm

    I have been a knife enthusiast and instructor in hand to hand combat for over 30 years. I always carry a 4 1/2 inch folder for everyday situations. In in “woods”, training scenarios, or patrol, I carry my folder and a “Double-edged” HRT S&W Sticker in a boot sheath, and a large “Bowie” type knife with a full length neck. These have kept me safe and alive on several occasions at home, work, and abroad. Whatever you carry, know how to use it, and practice, practice, practice with it! It just may save your life

  • LBear65 August 31, 2015, 1:12 pm

    I’m 68 and carry a pocket knife, which is becoming harder & harder to do these days with all the checks you go thru to attend events. My Grandfather told me to always carry a pocket knife and I have. He carried a yellow handled Case. My everyday carrier is a Boker, single, locking, blade yellow handle. Over the years I’ve carried all types of cutting instruments while hunting or backpacking. Today I carry only two. One of the new Bubba Blades for dispatching a hog and a Havalon for skinning and gutting. They work just great. I love the Bubba Blade’s grip because it doesn’t slip when wet. And I can skin a hog quickly with the Havalon.

  • Alvin August 31, 2015, 1:01 pm

    I have carried a Gerber Gator folding model for years, does everything I ever needed. I am 73 years old.

  • dave August 31, 2015, 12:11 pm

    If I know what I’m in for, I’ll pack my gear accordingly. But just in terms of what I own and might throw into the car for a trip to the woods, I’ll probably take multiple blades and pare that down before I start out on foot – they don’t really weigh that much. Same for other stuff. I try to carry a small ’emergency pack’ all the time (basic first aid, fire starting tool, knife & compass) in a small used camera bag, a somewhat larger ‘waist bag’ in case I fall into a creek or river and have to ditch my big bag (a bit more of the first plus a LifeStraw) to swim, and of course my big bag. But I would of course try to cut that weight down some if I could – when I have a better idea of what I can ditch. I don’t usually need 100′ feet of bull rope or a double bit ax, but I own one of each for when I do.

    So I guess my answer to your question is – I carry as much knife as I expect to need, and something else as well, just in case. If weight is a real issue, I can go on day hikes with bricks in my pack to get my strength up.

  • E_man August 31, 2015, 11:40 am

    In the recent HBO series True Detective Season 2, the female detective is a bad-ass with a knife and there is a great scene of her practicing knife attacks against a plywood cutout covered with cardboard, duct tape, etc., She slices and dices and stabs the *&^% out of that target! Not sure it was as good as Season 1, but still pretty badass overall.

  • DAVID August 31, 2015, 11:07 am

    I don’t think that there is going to be one answer. Every one has there own preference and then with that preference it then comes down to what am I going to use the knife for. I have used a CRKT folder since 2006. I have taken it to Iraq twice and killed I don’t know how many MRE and pop tart bags with it. This is my utility knife. I carry it everywhere. Now when I was driving around Iraq I had another knife tucked into my flight suit pocket at my boot. my CRKT was hooked to my OTV over left chest. Then around my waist I had my big pig sticker. Back then I figured if my weapon stopped working and I was in a CQB I had a knife with in easy reach being on my back standing or sitting I had a knife within easy reach. Them other knifes are gone probably barely used. Might have used one cause it was easier to get to open a wrapper. But that CRKT is still with me. I had to buy my wife one that was similar to what I carried cause she always ended up with mine. About the only thing everyone is going to suggest is a full tang blade if it comes to a fixed blade knife. About my only two cents worth after all of this is the best knife is the one that worked as it was supposed to. ie the pointy in going into someone or something that was going to do you grievous bodily harm.

  • H.K. August 31, 2015, 10:56 am

    TO Gringo:
    Ugliest knife ever ! -but my 1st out the door ! fits your hand(great shape) can break doorglass (car) Open up with gloves on-good strong blade & stays sharp / my Buck-Strider/Tarani is my go to EDC;& never met anybody who ever heard of or saw one before..

  • Airboine101 August 31, 2015, 10:14 am

    REALLY…you’re going to trust your survival to a knife that costs $10? Above and beyond that…let’s take a look at real world situations. Any “Survival” knife with “Tools” in the handle is something you carry in your truck or car for the one in a million situation when the world falls apart and you can’t go home to get your bug out gear. When you’re in a camping or hunting situation in the woods you take several knives for different purposes. A larger sheath knife to wear for defense against – whatever. A small hand axe for chopping, and a pocket folder w/a mid length blade. Before you carry one of the hollow handle knives w/all that stuff in it thinking “This is all I need”, I suggest you do a “Dry run” test. Go out into the wild with only that knife as your one tool, AND someone else who has all the tools, a cell phone, GPS, large cal. handgun, tent, etc. Pretend you’re by yourself, and only use them and their help if you really need it. What a “Reality show” that would make. You’ll find out what real life survival is like, it’s much different than the “Movies” or TV. NOW you can write a review on a knife.

  • Larry white August 31, 2015, 8:56 am

    I am like most everyone else here,I have many knives.Folders and fixed,but out of all the knives I have only one sticks out over all and it by no means is the most expensive.But it is the one I have with me all the time it has been with me for mant years!It has skint many deer, squaril,rabbit and lots of other furry critters,lot & lots of fish,we hae bilt many of fires.And even whittled late in the evenings as the sun set.It is my buck102 fixed blade it has a 4\” blade,stays sharp longer than most of my onterios or my esses that I paid much much more for.Its also sharpens easy,small but also can do the big jobs too.To me it is and always will be the best knife I have ever owned .I guess what I am trying to say is what ever knife you choose must be the one you find the most comfortable and the most reliable!

  • Tyler August 31, 2015, 7:59 am

    I may not be the most experienced commenter here by any means, some of you have been building your knife collection longer than I’ve been alive(I’m 26). However I have been hunting and camping all my life and started collecting knives as soon as I could hold one(you can never have too many) I also spend a lot of time looking at knife reviews and videos. Being a budget minded person, I dont regularly use any of my knives that are over $100, though they are beautiful and functional. But when I go out, I want something I can really abuse. My edc is never out of reach 24/7, I carry a sog aegis with a serrated tanto blade, it is my absolute most favorite knife. When I hunt I also take my kabar with a serrated blade g10 handle and kydex sheath. And when Im camping I also bring my kabar kukri machete. All 3 of these are strong, reliable, hold a good edge, and are under $50 so you don’t feel to bad doing some dirty work with them. I’ll definitely admit it takes some getting used to skinning with the kabar ( I usually do my skinning in the shed where I have a dedicated skinner) but it is absolutely doable.

  • Gringo August 31, 2015, 7:58 am

    The Marine Corps made me both train, and deploy with, a KABAR and the larger, meaner, more updated bayonet cousin. In the case of the latter blade, I spent quite a bit of time training in and training others in the Marine Corps Martial Art Program. I was reasonably skilled with it. But while deployed to Afghanistan, the KABAR stayed rolled in the bottom of my ruck, and the bayonet affixed firmly to my patrol pack. The former, while storied, is simply outdated, and the latter, while a fine example of a modern bayonet, is often like using a machete to cut strawberries.

    The Marine Corps said I had to HAVE them, but it never said that to USE them.

    Aboard Kandahar Air Field, I had a 3.5″ folder with me (along with my M4 and M9) wherever I went. Perhaps some might balk, for good reason, at the name of the manufacturer these days, but it’s a great knife. There are probably better ones out there, and definitely more expensive ones, but the folder made as a Buck-Stryder-Tarani collaboration has served me well. In truth, I probably would not have bought it, had I been paying full price, but I managed to land a deal. It’s hefty, holds an edge, sharpens well, and is relatively easy to clean and maintain.

    Venturing out into Indian Country, though, I opted for an Ontario RAT-5 (D2) strapped to my plate carrier. It’s probably about half the size of the bayonet, 2/3 of the weight, but tough as nails. With that knife, I have cut away clothing, pried open crates, cut banding off of ammo cans, hammered in tent and aiming stakes, etc., etc., etc… It sharpens well, with a bit of patience, has a fantastic amount of grip (even when wearing Nitrile or sweat-soaked gloves), balances well despite its weight, and has enough belly in the blade to skin a goat. It’s still on my personal kit at this very moment, and, despite my personal opinion that knives, like firearms, are tools for given sets of tasks, this comes close to it for me.

    • Jay Cannon September 14, 2015, 9:01 am

      I second the Ontario RAT-5 D2. Excellent fixed blade knife. My EDC is a Benchmade Griptilian.

  • Mike August 31, 2015, 7:07 am

    I got into knifemaking as a hobby in the eighties and went full time in the nineties, I have been an avid hunter and woodsman all of my life. The perfect knife? I have made thousands of knives and each one was different. I have made to customer design knives I wouldn’t put my name on – yet they loved them. The old saying goes “You cannot dispute taste”. My carry knives tend to be 7-8″ in length with a semi-skinner or droppoint blade, but there have been times when a larger or smaller blade would have made the job easier. There is an old saying about opinions and it applies very much to the “perfect knife”.

  • HJ Lamb August 31, 2015, 4:50 am

    Knives have been an important part of my life over over 55 years. I was given my first knife at 10 years of age when I entered the Boy Scouts, a standard folding pocket knife and I don’t recall the manufacturer. That started it! Since then, I have owned, traded, dabbled in knife making and bought, sold and traded hundreds of knives. I never had to knife fight nor had to use an edged weapon in any violent confrontation involving man or beast. Over 23 years of military service, survival training, Vietnam, and almost 6 decades of hunting, camping and fishing did impose upon me the value and benefits of having a good knife that fit the situation, maintained a good edge and had good grips to stay put in the hand when wet or covered in blood (very slippery stuff). Consequently, I narrowed my choices to basically 2 knives, a Randall model 14 (spearpoint blade style) which I have owned over 40 years and a Victorionox Huntsman folder I picked up back in the late ’70s or early ’80s. There have been many other knives along the way and a third personal favorite is a Finnish 3 inch Aito Puukko with a hilt of stacked layered of oiled birchbark.

  • Walter Williamson August 31, 2015, 4:08 am

    My personal choice is a Morakniv Bushcraft Black. Great knife for the money. Swedish steel is awesome. Just my $.02.

  • M Pawn August 31, 2015, 3:43 am

    Man, this is like the joy of my life, pursuing this exact topic.
    I have some great knives (KaBar, Benchmade, Fallkniven, Bark River, Mora, BlackJack, Blind Horse, etc), but nothing has quite hit that “perfect all-rounder” mark.
    I’ll tell you the next two I’m gonna try, though:
    Bob Dozier KS 3 (but ask for a flat grind in stead of the convex for added strength)
    Bark River Wilderness Explorer (the only ? Being the CPM Cru Wear steel. I expect it’ll perform well, though)

    I don’t know jack about fighting/killing people with knives. There seem to be some people on this board who have given it some considerable brain- time. I’ll leave the evaluations given that particular application to them. I’ll mostly be breaking down kindling/firewood while camping and hopefully dressing skinning at least a deer a year with mine.
    During the Zombie Apocalypse I’ll probably be that Boy Scout with 4 knives a multi tool & a hatchet in his pack. I’m a pretty solid 6’2″ 135. I can carry some weight.

    • Max January 21, 2017, 1:09 pm

      Interesting topic… The eyes like candy too: the Useful and Beautiful get my vote.
      No folders & Full Tangs only.
      TripleX Knives, & Cosmo Knives (Ca) along with the odd Barkie do satisfy all my needs for Bushcraft, Pruning (vineyard work), Trekking, (boating, mountaineering & forest being all around me in British Columbia).

      Dad was Army, I was Navy, & we both knew how to make the most of a knife
      (a shap stick can out-stab any dagger… call it a hardened tip spear…)

      So, besides a tool-box knife (for utilities) a pair of knives comes handy:

      a very pretty small “stainless” does most of the Kitchen slice & dice, (that stays with the emergency/fire kit, in a small bag), eithe a 3.75″ Cosmo Bushcrafter, or the Springbock I BRKT….
      & a 5-6″ larger gen-purpose…
      like the Wilderness Explorer BRKT, or the Nor’Easter from TripleX (1/4″ M2 11″ OAL), or Seth Burton’s 6″ Bushcraft knife (S35VN): the first for pleasure, the second with a Sabre grind for the forest, the 3rd more for wet/snow weather (for wood & to keep “Mountain-Lions” off my back) .

      The Wilderness Explorer is a great camper, and has my heart…
      The Nor’Easter is so well proportioned and balanced that it seems lighter, and dances in hand… more Survival/Bushcraft than the reverse.
      The Cosmo’ s Bushcrafters (3.5″ & 6″) are jewels, and fairly expensive BUT worth it, with the larger of the 2 being similar to a Fallkniven A1 Pro, or a BRKT Bravo 1.5… only BETTER.

      For specific Bushcraft short trips, I take the TripleX Rambler Bushcrafter in A2 (Google TripleX Knives for pictures) instead of the Wilderness Explorer (5″ blade, spear-point), along with my TripleX “Wolverine”, that is more like a “Nessie” – Canadian Special, with stubby X grip
      ( built like a German Pocket-Battleship, in 1/4″ M2, only8.25″ OAL:
      My own design, but it chops, skins, scrapes and fits in the palm of my hand…
      The Wolverine comes closest to the All Around perfect knife…
      even flies off hand surely straight to target, shoud you know how to throw! But I would NOT!)

  • Peter Cosgrove August 31, 2015, 3:28 am

    I hv many knives. My edc is a Gerber midsized fixed blade and a small folder with a seat belt cutter on it I believe it’s a trc.

  • Greg Schmidt August 30, 2015, 4:32 pm

    Good information for knife shoppers. Can\’t believe the guy that questioned a combat seasoned veteran about his choice of knife, though. I think the best knife is the one that works for you. There\’s so many different knives and so many different potential scenarios. From a concealed carry perspective, one that can be opened quickly and easily and locks sturdily in place would be primary considerations.

  • Will Drider August 28, 2015, 2:56 am

    Short fighting knives: A second glance. I’m not a fan of sorties. The way you need to employ them to be successful my not readily present themselves and you must be more percise in application. The longer it takes to take the fight out of your opponent the more time he/she will have to do the same to you. Just as you should know where to put a round the CNS, you should also study the human body in order to know exactly where arteries run near the surface, key organ placement and skill entry points that your shorti can reach. By all means, while in a knife fight inflect as much damage where you can but KNOW what/where to strike and work to hit those areas. As with gunfights don’t expect one shot stops. Don’t stick it and let go. Bone, muscle contraction and clothing/gear can bind a blade. Stir the pot, get loose. Hit obstruction: withdraw and redirect. Obviously shorties can work if used to their limits. You also try to gain advantage before engaging head on by obstrusting opponents vision with a handful of sand or loose dirt, cleanser from bathroom or whatever then quickly ENGAGE. Pepper spray may not deter your opponent and you will have its effects too. High lum strobe or light effects deminish quickly depending on current ambient light. Knife fight only end when the is a total loss of CNS, blood, air, shock, will or abaility to continue. The media makes horrific claims that someone was stabbed 20-30 times and say killer was deranged. Real world, it takes time from fatal strike to death and the strugle continues until submission occures. This is another reason for additional “post mortem” stab wounds as there is no blood left to pool in these wounds. Also due to the violent nature of the encounter, you just don’t turn of the fighting mode like a light switch. This is why I’m a gun guy and knife guy of last resort.

  • Jake Z August 26, 2015, 12:22 pm

    While I’ve never been in war I have the unfortunate experience of being in 3 fights that involved knives, and I have been cut very bad on one of the occasions. I, like most of us on here, carry a pocket knife all the time. I carry a kershaw Knockout, one of their more “premium” knives without getting into ZT territory, it has a wide 3.5in blade, and having stabbed in a defensive role it was just barely enough to incapacitate , so I agree with the mentioned instructors preference to a 4 inch blade, super fast, And just long enough to do the job. Now if I was going to carry a knife in a survival combat situation I would have to go with 2 knives, one being a 5-7 inch full tang 1/4 inch thick knife with micarta or g10 grips, and preferably a spear point. It would also have to be made of 1095 or better. I do a lot of knife reviews and have found 1095 (heat treated properly) can withstand the prying chopping digging aspect needed. Also I would carry a very very very small knife for skinning, gutting, and other very fine tasks, this knife would be in the 3-5 inch overall length with a decent stainless steel, it would also have to weigh so little that it is negligible, the kabar piggy back comes to mind, maybe something that can saddle your bigger knife. And above all else train with the gear you want to carry, it might be too heavy for someone else but if you use in in your training load out then you should be accustomed to the added weight,NEVER SACRIFICE FUNCTIONALITY FOR WEIGHT, JUST GET STRONGER!! All joking aside, as we all know training with what you carry is paramount

  • Donnie Morgan August 26, 2015, 12:26 am

    I also believe theres a tool for every thing. A blade for combat is not necessarily good for bushcraft but can work. I’m a three tool man i guess you could say. Like the author I am a knife nut as well if I see a case Knife I don’t have or a Benchmade knife it’s hard restrain myself from buying it. I always carry a good ole case trapper or stockman for small game. I always have an axe or a tomahawk never to far away if camping pack packing I even have one in my boat. Fix blades knives bushcraft if you have the money, its hard to beat a battle horse scout 5″ blade. Custom knives i’m a fan of Peter Kohler owner of Dark Timber Knives just a sucker for the rustic look. If your like me and every dollar counts you can’t go wrong with any of the Becker knife and tool by Ka-Bar. My favorite fighting knife of all knives is a Becker and it’s one you don’t hear about a lot the Becker BK-5 with it’s 8 inch blade and 7inch cutting edge and a finger choil so you can choke up on it and, it’s a great skinner. It can perform bushcraft as good if not better than the BK-7and weighs in less than a pound with 3/16, 1095 Crovan steel . I like the BK-5 so much I went ahead and bought it’s little brother the BK-17 with a 5 1/4″ blade. If your like me as I said and dollars count you can customize a Becker to be what ever you want. I’ll tell you up front go ahead and get a quality kydex or quality leather sheath for it, the sheath it come with sucks. I buy a knife for the knife and an intended task not the sheath and the Becker just fits me well and for the money they are hard to beat. Other honorable Becker’s, the BK-2, 7, 9 and 16 the heaviest of the bunch are the BK-2-9 weighing in at 16 ounces an even pound. Another knife maker coming on strong in the bush crafting world is Habilis with their bush-tool and SRT good one tool options well seems to be the closest I’ve seen. Oh yeah I totally believe in buying USA Knives. If its not made in the USA that knife or blade is indigenous to that country like the Katana. So two blades one BK-5 one pocket knife or multitool and if camping or back packing ad a hand axe or tomahawk to the mix

  • Will Drider August 25, 2015, 9:51 pm

    The PERFECT KNIFE. By the title, you must forsake all others for a knife that works best at what the user deems the priority task. The purpose of a knife is to cut and puncture. What you plan to cut and puncture drives your selection. It must have appropriate balance and handling characteristics. A knife must be an extention of your hand but not a burden (it must be able to flow with your change of direction without fighting the centrifugal forces of a too heavy blade and regardless of size nimble in your hands). To pry, cut down trees, break trail, cut wire, open beans or store your compass, hooks and line is not the job of a knife. You can improvise things to do those jobs and obviously have time to do it since your not fighting. There are knives that are bastardized to meet the needs of urban Rambos and Klingon warriors. There are thousands of multipurpose knives, but every “purpose function” you add detracts from the primary one. View these in the same light as a AR with all four rails crammed with Tacti-fool accessories. I don’t agree with “short” fighting knives. Reach and standoff are your advantage. Choose your knife as if you WILL BE IN A KNIFE ONLY FIGHT. This does not mean a heavy knife. If your worse case scenario if blade to blade against a 6.6, 300lb guy you better have enough knife to reach the heart from any side, blade reach inflict injury to reduce his ability and or will fight. If your in full contact hand to hand with knives, individual strength plays in but a longer blade will offer more opportunities to continue inflecting pain and damage. Some will support a short blade for application with rapid rabbit punch application though recipents often continue the fight. However, a slice is a more dramatic injury and a deep puncture with a slicing withdrawal will cause extensive immediate trama.

    So the question really is knife or multi tool? If the answer is knife, you are well on your way to choose without distractions. The knife in my go to bag is a CRKT Hisshou.

    • Tom Horn August 27, 2015, 9:48 am

      Well written and informative, Will. Thanks

    • Brian August 31, 2015, 11:25 am

      OK you must have a small dick if your perfect fighting knife is the hisshou. First from a anatomy point it only takes a four inch blade to hit any major organ in the human body. Second a knife with a 13 inch blade is called a sword. You better stay on your couch and play your video games because you don’t have a clue. They let us look and try one of those in my unit and we all thought it was a joke. So Rambo go play paintball with your sword and leave the rest to professional s who know what they are doing. Thanks for the laugh dumbass.

  • mike August 25, 2015, 12:35 pm

    it is impossible or impractical to carry one knife. Starting with the grade of steel it must contain Vanadium, which holds an edge a long time. You must have a folding diamond sharpener which weighs a couple of ounces. Your first knife should be a folder that has a clip on the outside of the handle. the second one should be a straight blade of your choice with a rubber or non-slip handle material. It can be any blade length but have a plastic sheath for safety. ( doesn’t cut through sheath and cut you if you fall or in a fight) If you are in the bush for an extended time you need another knife designed for cutting trees( machete type). There is not a knife on the market that retails for less than $100 that is worth anything. they will not hold an edge.

  • Tom Horn August 25, 2015, 11:17 am

    Ever try to fillet a fish, or clean a squirrel with a large combat knife? There’s a tool for every job, but when I go backpacking/canoeing/camping I like two knives. My lite everyday carry works great for fish and small game (3.875″ folder, good stainless). I also carry larger fixed blade HC steel for bush craft. It weighs less than small axe, but can perform many of the same functions. Unless your in the Campfire Girls, you don’t need to be choppin’ huge logs for a fire/shelter. I’d throw out other items from my backpack before I parted with either of them.

    I’ll let the experts weigh in on combat, and killing bears, etc…

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