Years ago I had this acquaintance who always carried this big assed Bowie on his hip no matter where he went and one day I got curious and decided to ask him what was the reason – the answer surprised me and I will share it and other information I think you’ll find interesting.
Robert was called Red for obvious reasons; he stood 6’-4” in his stocking feet and sported a stocky 250# frame and his Budweiser Uni-pack as he referred to it. He was in the habit of carrying a bone handled Bowie knife with a blade the length of my forearm on his hip in a handed tooled leather sheath with his name RED on the outside. It was a big knife 15-inches or so long with a razor sharp blade.
I knew Red for about a year when I got up the nerve to ask him why he carried such a big blade.
“It’s the best overall utility knife I have ever owned. I use it in my carpet business for cutting carpet, for chopping when my boy and I hunt, for cleaning our game we catch and for many other things it’s been invaluable.” He said.
That got me to thinking when I began to write this article. What is really needed in a knife?
The answers are first comfort, utility and price. Let’s take each point individually.
Comfort – It’s obvious most people would not feel comfortable with a 15-inch knife on their hip. A more practical method is a folding blade that can clip on the inside of a pants pocket not leaving it exposed to view and weighing only ounces.
Utility – Utility is one of the most important things in owning a knife.
Owning a knife for personal protection alone is a foolish notion. I have been alive for 62 years and being in the business I’m in placed me in situations that could have gotten precarious and not once was I forced to pull a knife on another person.
So let’s discuss the utility factor. A knife is meant for cutting purposes and one you would carry can be a fixed or folding blade.
Fixed full tang blade knives – these are the most practical for utilitarian purposes as they are strong one piece blades with a handle attached. They are usually 8”-10” in length and can be used around the house, in a business capacity similar to what Red used his for and when hunting, camping or fishing to chop small branches for a fire, pry items, cleaning fish and game and to cut rope and the butt end to hammer in items.
Folding blades with a locking mechanism – A good utility blade is one that can be kept in your pocket or clipped to your belt for small cutting jobs. This type of knife usually has no more than a 4-inch blade is suitable for light duty on your job if required, camping, hunting or fishing serves a dual purpose and yes can be used as personal protection.
Price – This is something no one ignores not in today’s questionable economy. If you go online you’ll see blades from $10 to $500 but let’s be practical what is reasonable?
A decent fixed blade knife that will work in almost any situation shouldn’t cost more than $50 and will likely last you a lifetime. A good folding blade with a firm gripping surface, a strongly attached blade, easy to open and strong locking mechanism (very important) will run about the same $50. When it comes to fixed blade knives my selections are easier SOG and Gerber have been the most comfortable and utilitarian.Gerber fixed blade camping knife
SOG Tactical folding knife
I won’t recommend any in particular but SOG, Gerber, Buck, Benchmade, Kershaw and Case are my top choices. I have owned each over the years and for a utility knife they were all excellent. As a tactical blade I prefer and carry a SOG but that is personal choice not because it’s better than any other.
When you shop for best knife for a survival situation I suggest you buy both a fixed blade and a folding blade. Check the folder by opening it several times, does it have an open assist to help, is the blade firm and not able to be moved side-to-side or in any way with pressure? It should be firmly locked and comfortable in your hand.
The fixed blade should have a 5-6-inch blade, a handle that won’t slip when in heavy use, should have a tang than runs the length of the handle as well and fit in your hand comfortably.