Outdoor Survival: How to Get in (And Out) of the Woods in One Piece

Let me ask you a question about outdoor survival.

Have you ever wanted to go to the woods?

Maybe you spent time in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts and developed a love of nature (and a good eye for dangerous plants.)

Or perhaps, like me, you roamed around the woods behind your home when you were a kid.

It might be instinct, the forces of consumerism driving us back towards a “simpler” time, or a need to connect with something more natural inside of us.

(In my case, all it took was seeing Captain Fantastic with my girlfriend ONE TIME).

captain fantastic with his guitar

Image via Twitter

Whatever the reason, the woods exist in our Romantic imagination.

Unfortunately for us, though, the woods are a real place and can get dangerous quickly. And when that happens, you’re going to need to be prepared for outdoor survival.

 

So, if you’re interested in tapping into your primal state, we’ve got you covered!

And since going to the woods without preparation can lead to some pretty rough consequences, you should definitely read up before you go!

Here’s what you need to know:

Where Are “The Woods?”

If you want to go to the woods, how do you pick a site?

It takes a little more foresight than just grabbing the nearest knife and heading out to brave the wilderness alone.

But with a combination of common sense and some helpful tips, you’ll be out in the woods in no time.

 

According to author and wilderness expert Heather Menicucci, picking a campsite can be an exciting part of the experience!

Consider these factors:

Don’t blaze a trail

Pick somewhere other people have camped

If you’re in a campground, you must camp where designated sites are.

It’s also a good idea because park rangers know where dangerous animals and plants live, where resources like water and shelter are, and how to help keep park visitors safe. Don’t go it alone.

But on the other hand:

Primitive camping requires you to know where other people have camped, but that’s easy!

Choosing already used spots helps reduce the number of campsites in the forest or park, and if other people have camped there, it was likely safe.

Charred ground, fallen logs for sitting, or fire pits are great signs of human presence, and they’ll help you pick your campsite.

bonfire at the side of the mountain

 

Safe distances from what you need to be close to

Everyone knows that staying close to water is important, but you can be too close to water.

Remember:

All the animals in the forest need the water too, and some of them are not friendly. It’s important to know where it is, but be pretty far away from it.

Also, water will make the ground wet and attract mosquitoes. Yuck.

Stay 200 feet from trails, water, and cliffs.

people hiking in the woods

 

The writing is on the wall, er… signs

Stay away from protected areas

It’s important to remember that being in the woods isn’t just about you!

Here’s the bottom line:

Outdoor survival is about your relationship with the environment — and that relationship goes two ways!

So when the park says “Don’t go over there because of bears,” it’s closer to saying “You two should not meet” than “You might be harmed.” They are equally concerned about the bears’ safety.

We’ll go over not being a bad camper later, but many national parks were specifically created by the government to preserve the wildlife of North America.

Suffice it to say that you can do some serious damage to nature if you don’t follow the rules.

military officer giving drill instruction

 

So you’re in the woods. What now?!

Let’s get extreme for a second:

Imagine what it would be like if you were just dumped in the woods. What would you need to know? What would you try to know first?

Everyone who said “Use my cell phone to call help,” is disqualified. We’re doing a thing here.

While that’s an extreme example of outdoor survival, it’s helpful to think that way when preparing for your trip!

Think to yourself, “It’d be terrible if I were stuck in the woods and I didn’t have ______,” and then pack that thing.

And though not everything about outdoor survival is common sense, some of the answers to these questions can seem obvious.

campsite with tables and chairs

 

Outdoor survival first steps

The first step is one of the most important:

Don’t panic.

Anxious and excited people do dumb things. The first thing that you’re going to want to do is figure out what kind of world you’re living in now.

Warning: Most of this article is going to be concerned with spring/summer/fall camping. Obviously, what you have to do to not die in winter is VERY different.

caution slippery sign

 

Your environment

Is it cold or hot? What kind of forest is it? Can I see/hear water nearby? Is there snow on the ground? Can I hear animals?

Balancing these will help you determine what you need to do.

For example:

If it’s cold, is it a good idea to take that cave for shelter? Not if there’s a bear in it.

You should also scout the area for the geographical features we discussed earlier, like water, cliffs, and trails. Look out for things like wood you can use for kindling and stones you can use for a fire pit.


person gathering firewood

 

Assessing the situation

After checking out your environment, it’s time to take stock of what you’ve got. See if you’ve got any of these handy things on you:

map icon

Map/GPS

warm clothes icon

Warm Clothes

compass icon

Compass

sturdy footwear

Sturdy Footwear

water bottle icon

Water

matchboxes icon

Matchboxes or lighters

food icon

Food

first aid icon

First aid kit

solar powered batteries icon

Solar-powered batteries

flashlight icon

Flashlight with extra batteries

insect repellent icon

Insect repellent

swiss knife icon

Tools like (good) knives

Keep your packing as light as you can, but always pack your dream list. If something’s going to be “make or break” in the forest, pack it.

campers having breakfast

 

Finding your way back to camp

Nothing can be quite as scary as losing your way in the woods.

But here’s a big tip for finding your way back!

Know your footwear.

Leaving footprints is one of the easiest ways to track your way back to camp, and you do it naturally! But that will only work if you know what your footprint looks like.

Be sure to give those boots a whirl and learn what your tracks look like, so you can follow them back to your (temporary) home.

woman running on a rocky trail

 

Conserving your energy

One thing you’re going to want to pay attention to is conserving your energy when you’re in the woods.

To humans, many animals like lions and bears can look lazy, but they’re doing what you should when you’re in the woods — conserving energy.

jakelikesonions comic post on twitter

Image via Twitter

Make sure that all your tasks are oriented towards your outdoor survival and you’re not wasting unnecessary energy (like spending it panicking.)

A bear sleeps all day so it has enough energy to hunt. You should relax so you have enough energy to run away from a bear.

large brown Grizzly bear

 

The facts of life (i.e. pooping in the woods)

In all honesty, to most people, going number two in the woods might sound somehow freeing and more primal than our ordinary lives. But in reality, there’s a right way to poop and a wrong way to poop.

Here’s everything you need to know about poop:

Leave no trace

If you leave your business hanging around, it can attract animals, and you don’t want that.

So do yourself and the earth a favor (we all know number 2’s make great fertilizer) and bury that bad boy about six to eight inches deep.

Leave no trace poster

 

Count and evaluate your deuces

When you’re doing outdoor survival, you don’t have a doctor handy, and bowel movements can be a great indicator of your health.

So, before you pull out that trowel, take a good look, and see what you can learn. Infrequent timing, diarrhea, or strange color can alert you to things you need to know.

Don’t get uncomfortable — your health in the woods is much more important than your pride!

 

Fire, Shelter, Direction, and the Subtle Art of Not Drinking Poison

Though most people do have a compass on their phones, it might shock you to learn that there are no outlets in the woods.

So you’re going to have to find different ways of getting around.

Here are a few options:

Compass

A compass is the simplest way to catch your bearings in the woods, and you absolutely should not be doing outdoor survival without one.

However, let’s assume you lost yours or forgot it at home. What do you do then?

Moss

Yup, as in the green stuff growing on rocks in the forest.

It always grows thickest on the south side of a tree or rock. Or the north. Or evenly spread moss means good luck. I’m not sure.

But that’s mainly because no one is — IT’S A MYTH.

Despite hundreds of years of people swearing you can tell direction why where moss is growing, evidence suggests moss grows in favorable conditions, pretty much everywhere.

So the plants will NOT be guiding you home.

But stars might:

Stars

Now this one is not junk science — stars really can help you orient yourself!

 

Here’s how:

One trustworthy way is by using Polaris, the brightest star in Ursa Minor, also known as the Little Dipper.

Polaris can help you find where South is, and conversely, where North is. Even though you will probably be a degree or two off, that’s not actually that important for finding your way out of the woods.

Humans have used stars for thousands of years to find our way around without a compass, and you can do it, too!

The Sun

Besides being a banging track by Maroon 5, the sun can really save your bacon without a compass. And for you astute readers out there, yes, the sun is a star!

Here’s an ingenious solution:

Take a stick about the with of your thumb, stick it in the ground, and place a rock at the end of the shadow.

Wait 15 minutes (if you don’t have a clock or watch, you’re gonna have to count it roughly yourself) and then place another rock at the end of the new shadow.

You are now facing North.

Warning: This only works in the Northern hemisphere, but for the Southern, all you have to do is reverse it.

With all these options, you’ll be able to orient yourself in the woods with ease!

Shelter

So by now, you’ve learned how to tell your direction, and what you need to know about shelter, fire, and conservation of wildlife.

But how do you even build a fire? How do you build a shelter?

Luckily, it’s not hard!

It’s probably going to take a few hours, but it’s definitely going to be one of the things worth spending your energy for.

Shelter should be your number one priority.

Bears have caves, birds have nests, and you are just a person in the woods. Get to it!

Purifying Water

You can’t just drink any water that you find in the forest — it can be filled with bacteria and viruses!

And you’re going to want to think about this one BEFORE you get thirsty.

Thankfully, the process is easy:

Purifying water is not a difficult task, and hopefully, you brought some filters with you on your trip.

If you didn’t, a great way to purify it is by boiling it. But then you’ll use up your firewood.

It’s helpful to think of outdoor survival as a zero-sum game. Something gained, something lost.

If you boil your water, you’ll lose firewood. When you don’t, you’ll risk viruses. If you make your shelter, you spend energy. When you don’t, you risk cold and sick.

Everything you do in the woods has a certain opportunity cost, meaning that it affects your opportunities for the future.

Being successful at outdoor survival means that you can balance these considerations with each other.

To build a fire

Fire is one of the most important (and deadly) substances that humans constantly need.

If you don’t make your fire well, the worst outcome for you is that it’s ineffective. If you really don’t make it well, it could have potentially disastrous consequences for wildlife.

Most parks have guidelines and resources for building fires that you should know before you even start.

Remember:

  • Keep enough water on hand to extinguish the fire
  • Check the campground website for burn bans or rules on how to gather firewood
  • Make your fire away from flammable grasses

Different types of wood

In general, there are three types of wood that you’ll need to build a fire.

pile of logs

 

Tinder

Tinder catches fire quickly, but it doesn’t last long (a fitting name for a dating app.)

Pine needles can be great for tinder, but you can also use dry bark and leaves.

Kindling

Kindling lasts a bit longer than tinder, and it’s what’s going to give your fire some sustainability.

They’re going to help ignite the fuel wood.

Fuel Wood

Fuel wood is where the magic happens. These are the heavy logs that are going to keep your fire going as long as you want.

Although it’s tempting, you really can’t add them to the equation too soon, or you’ll smother the flame! (If this is not a metaphor for relationships, I’m not sure what is.)

There are some easy structures to start off with, like the teepee.

And by knowing your different types of wood, you’ll be able to construct a fire like an outdoor survival pro.

What if the weather sucks?

This one is a skill you should practice before you ever find yourself in the woods.

Luckily, there are still options!

  • Fire starters
  • Multiple lighters
  • Waterproof matches

As I said, this is pretty difficult for a newbie, but trying it at home before you get out there can really improve your skills.

Properly extinguishing the fire

Did you know that more than four out of five forest fires are caused by people?

Don’t be that person.

Remember that water we kept around for your fire? Now’s the time to use it.

There are also a few more things to remember about properly extinguishing a fire:

  • Pouring water on the fire will produce smoke. Don’t breath it in.
  • There may be embers burning underneath even after you douse it in water.
  • Stir dirt in the embers. When you extinguish a fire, COMMIT.

Weapons and Hunting

Maybe you wanted to do outdoor survival to connect with the primal urges of humanity. In that case, there are options for you in the woods.

Hunting and foraging were two foundational tasks for humanity, and they’re still important today.

man riding on an elevator gif

 

Let’s talk about hunting first:

Where the wild things are

What weapons you choose to bring to the forest depends on what game you’re going to hunt. However, you should not kill anything that you won’t or can’t eat.

This means you don’t just run in the woods with a knife and hope to kill a deer. It also means you don’t just kill something without a plan to gut, skin, and cook it.

Anything else and you’re just killing animals for sport. Not cool.

In North America, the animals you’ll likely find in the forest are:

  • Deer
  • Turkeys
  • Various other kinds of birds
  • Squirrels
  • Rabbits

But be careful — each kind of game comes with its own challenges.

deer in the woods

 

Deer

Unless you come to the woods prepared to kill a deer, you’re not killing a deer.

Waiting to do so is a good way to starve yourself. By nature, deer are quick, evasive, and the males’ antlers can be deadly.

Birds

To catch birds, you’re free to use traps like snares, but without a detailed understanding of where you are, an animal’s likely movements, and the season you’re in, you’re going to be out of luck.

Small game (raccoons, jackrabbits, squirrels, etc.)

According to Wilderness Awareness School, a non-profit dedicated to outdoor education, it makes the most sense to hunt small game in an outdoor survival situation.

This is for multiple reasons, but the most obvious is that they are the most abundant.

Don’t neglect insects!

Insects can be a great option for food in the forest if you’re really in a pinch.

 

Conservation of energy

You want to take into consideration a HUGE factor when hunting — is it worth it?

Always make sure that what you’re hunting will give you enough calories to count for the energy you spend getting it.

You may catch a squirrel for dinner, but if your body is too cold at night, you’re metabolizing those calories too quickly to keep yourself warm.

A deer may keep you fed for weeks, but it could take a month to bag.

Reminder:

Outdoor survival is a zero-sum game. Every choice and activity costs something. Choose wisely.

Examine your kill

You know how everyone says grocery shopping while hungry is a bad idea?

The same goes for hunting.

According to Field and Stream, you’ll want to examine the animal for signs of disease, tick infestations, and sunken eyes.

It can be disappointing to through the trouble of killing an animal that you find is too sick for you to eat.

But that’s why it’s best if you go hunting before deep hunger sets in, so you’re less likely to make compromises on your meat.

Weapons

In an outdoor survival situation, you’re going to have to get primitive with it.

So while a 0.22 caliber would be great for hunting game, that may not be in your tool box.

Here are some weapons you can use instead:

Rocks

Yes, rocks. As I said, being successful at outdoor survival means letting go of a bit of your pride. Remember, it was good enough for your ancestors, and you don’t have a gun.

Even if you can’t kill the game immediately, you may be able to immobilize it for long enough to reach it and kill it with a knife.

Throwing sticks

Similar to a rock, a projectile like a throwing stick can really help you out.

Instead of chasing a squirrel around the forest like a maniac, a throwing stick can help you conserve some energy.

Knives

It’s hard to overstate the value of a good knife in the wilderness.

But what makes a knife good?

Even if you don’t have famed serial killer Dexter’s arsenal of cutlery, you’ve still got options.

Here at  Wilderness Today, we think your best option for an outdoor survival knife is going to be a fixed blade, rather than a folding knife.

If something happens to that hinge or it gets dirty or rusty, you could be stuck with just the blade.

One fish, two fish

Fish deserve their own category for hunting.

They can be the easiest choice in an outdoor survival situation because they are high in protein, not difficult to catch, and bound to their specific environment!

Catching fish is also a great idea because you can set up traps and do other things while you’re catching fish for your next meal (assuming, of course, that you’re not catching them by hand).

A spear is a good choice when it comes to catching fish, and you can make it in a survival situation.

In actuality, though, there are tons of good options for catching fish — just hope you’re not competing with a bear!

Preparing hunted meat

Words can’t adequately convey how to kill, gut, skin, dress, and prepare an animal. But there are some good rules to follow for anything that you kill in the woods:

  • Avoid gut shots. You don’t want your meat contaminated by intestinal matter.
  • Prepare the food you eat at a steady pace. You don’t want bacteria to develop!
  • Keep your meat cool.
  • Always wash your hands or wear gloves when handling your meat.

And for rules and a more in-depth look at what it takes to properly take an animal from field to fork, check out this list and this video tutorial!

One last thing on meat:

There is no such thing as wasting assets in the woods. And if you don’t know how to prepare your meat properly, you’re going to waste a lot of it.

So read up!

A holistic mindset is the best way to make it through your outdoor survival adventure.

You Know That I’m No Good — Dangerous Plants and Animals

Let me tell you a story.

“Dave ate that plant. Dave died. Don’t eat that plant.”

That’s the whole story. That was how we used to discover which plants to eat and which ones not to. But 200,000 years later, there have been enough Daves, and you have the internet.

Make no mistake, in outdoor survival, plants can be every bit as deadly as animals. But some are friendly.

How do you know?

Can you tell which is which?

In large part, which plants you encounter is going to depend on where you are. So you should read up on your region before heading out to the wild.

But remember this:

In an emergency situation, there are ways of telling which plants are food and which ones are foes.

As with hunting, plant whispering is something to do before you get hungry.

Even though you can go days without food, you might make a rash decision based on hunger. But having something bad in your stomach is definitely worse than nothing at all.

Here are some counter-intuitive things you can do to test if plants are poisonous (but ONLY in emergencies.)

  • Place the plant against your mouth
  • Place it in your mouth without swallowing
  • Chew the plant without swallowing
  • Swallow a small portion of the plant

In all cases, you should discontinue the activity if you notice any bad reaction from the plant, wait at least eight hours after ingestion before making a decision, and immediately reverse course and drink lots of water to combat a bad reaction.

Another good thing to know about plants is that if they have leaves in groups of three, leave them alone.

Leave alone sappy milk plants, white berries, and anything with thorns, spines, or hairs. They are up to no good.

Fantastic (and dangerous) beasts and where to find them

With outdoor survival, you want to stay far, far away from dangerous animals. Here are some easy ways to avoid dangerous animals:

Be aware of your surroundings. Seeing a bear across the forest is better than seeing them 20 feet away. This is especially true with snakes, which are ambush predators. A snake will not chase you, so the key is not to get too close accidentally.

Look for animal tracks.

Be especially wary near water. Every other animal in the forest needs water just like you. So if you meet anywhere, it might be there.

Do not approach baby animals (they usually have dangerous parents).

For insects, you should bring tons of repellent to keep them out of your tent, your clothes, and shoes. Some ants, like fire ants, can really pack a punch!

Never leave food lying around.

Always bury your poop properly.

If you’re allergic to bees, bring an EpiPen! (It also depends on what type of bee. Honeybees are not aggressive, but in any case, it’s best to slowly walk away without agitating it, rather than asking it.)

Above all, remember:

Most animals do not care about you and will not hunt you. However, they may hurt you because you seem like a threat. You are always in the woods as a guest.

First aid

First aid is a critical outdoor survival skill, but so is knowing when to use it. For some nicks, scrapes, scratches, and even deep cuts, first aid can definitely be effective.

However:

For broken bones, serious loss of blood, or concussions, you will want to focus all your resources on finding some humans to help you out.

The most crucial thing you can do with first aid it to prepare for calamity. When packing your kit, think of the absolute worst thing that could happen, and pack for that.

Another great idea, if you haven’t already, is to get CPR-certified.

Before you head out, learn all about properly bandaging wounds, and how to treat various animal bites, plant infections, poisons, and venoms.

vintage first aid kit

How to protect wildlife

If there’s one thing to burn into your brain about outdoor survival, it’s this:

DO NOT BE A BAD CAMPER.

As much as outdoor survival is about making sure your environment doesn’t hurt you, it’s also about making sure you don’t hurt your environment.

Bad things happen when people don’t respect their environment.

BAD CAMPERS

Bad campers start forest fires during gender reveals

Bad campers get goats addicted to human urine

Bad campers create landfills around Mount Everest

Bad campers harm wildlife with wrappers, containers, plastic, and leftover food

GOOD CAMPERS

Good campers fully extinguish their fires

Good campers properly dispose of all human waste

Good campers don’t pollute

Good campers don’t litter the forest

In case you were wondering, those were ALL true stories.

The moral of the story is that the forest has to go on without you, so treat it with the Hippocratic Oath and do no harm.

It can take a while to get the hang of outdoor survival, which is why you should probably go with those with experience when you’re first starting out.

But if you study, prepare, and get good advice from knowledgeable sources, you’re going to be able to conquer the woods — or at least keep the woods from conquering you.

Good luck! At some point, you’ll probably need it. Do you have any other tips on outdoor survival? Share them with us in the comment section!

Best Tactical Tomahawks for Survival in 2019: Bushcraft & Military Tomahawk Reviews

Many people are familiar with the different varieties knives on the market (tactical knives, fixed blades and EDC folders).  But far fewer people are aware of what a tactical tomahawk is or how effective they can be in a survival situation.  Why would you want to purchase a tactical tomahawk instead of a knife you might ask?  The fact is that a tactical tomahawk can provide you with significantly more reach than a tactical knife.  It can also be used in many other emergency or survival situations such as freeing someone who may be trapped in a wreck.

In addition, due to their weight, they are also capable as an effective game processing tool when separating limb from prey after a hunt.  It’s also important to note that many designs also serve as multi-function tools for rescue personnel and as breaching tools for both law enforcement and military personnel.  Some people have argued that tactical tomahawks can be used for skinning.  Generally you are better off using a tool specifically designed for that purpose, but tomahawks can be effective if used in conjunction with a good skinning knife.

The fact is that in life or death situation, any tomahawk can be a great tactical addition to any survival arsenal.  Don’t feel like an in-depth read?  Our top three choices are below or continue on for our in-depth buyer’s guide and our top 15 choices.

Our Top 3 Picks:

#1. Gerber Downrange Tomahawk
#2. United Cutlery M48 With Compass
#3. SOG Specialty Knives Tactical Tomahawk

Tactical Tomahawk Buyer’s Guide:

When Europeans first began to explore the Americas, their home forests were all tame, coppiced, woodlands that were also reserved for the rich and powerful.  As a result, Europeans (unlike the peoples of the Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines who all live in woody jungles) lacked the concept of a large, heavy duty machete  for use as both a woodsman’s tool and as a means of self defense.  They were however well acquainted with both the battle axe and its smaller cousin the hand axe or, “hatchet”.

Survival Hatchet Buried in Wood
Hatchets (like shown above) are actually very different from tactical tomahawks.

A hatchet is specifically designed for to be a compact, woodsman’s, chopping tool making it ill suited for self defense.  American frontiersmen developed the tomahawk which is the offspring of a European battle axe and a hatchet.

It was specifically designed to function as both a woodsman’s tool and for self defense. A good tomahawk displays some very distinct characteristics that distinguish it from both a battle axe and a hatchet.

Let’s break down some of the major differences.

Head design – The first thing you need to understand about tomahawk design is that it differs drastically from both the European battle axe and the common hatchet in purpose.  This means that it differs in design as well.  For example, the European battle axe almost always features a very wide head with a curved cutting edge and a spike on the reverse side.  Hatchets have a much more narrow head with a significantly less curved cutting edge and, instead of a spike on the back, they have a flat surface.

Both the battle axe and the hatchet are relatively heavy for their size. The tomahawk was developed by North American frontiersmen who needed a tool that could chop, split, and shape wood as well as serve as a reliable tool for self defense.  This means that they needed a hatchet with a longer handle and a much narrower and lighter head so that it would still be able to chop and spit but, would also be much quicker in the hand when needed for quick use.

Head steel – The steel that a tomahawk’s head is made from is also an important consideration.  Because a tomahawk is often a multi-use tool as well as a survival tool, it must be made from a tough steel that is formulated to withstand impact without chipping, breaking, or shattering.  It must also be reasonably hard so that it holds an edge well.  As a general rule, non-stainless, high carbon, tool steels such as 1055, 1095, and SK5, tend to be a better choice for making tomahawk heads than stainless steels such as 420 HC or AUS8.

High carbon tool steels are also far more prone to corrosion than stainless steels.  As a result they do require additional care to keep them corrosion free. It should be noted that the hardness of some tomahawk heads is tested and rated according to the Rockwell Hardness C scale.  This is a very accurate measure of just how hard a particular piece of steel is.

This means that a tomahawk head with a Rockwell Hardness of 44-48 would be considered relatively soft but very tough.  A tomahawk with a Rockwell Hardness of 54-58 would be considered to be relatively hard but somewhat brittle. Ideally a tomahawk with a Rockwell Hardness of 50-52 would be an excellent compromise between toughness and edge holding ability.

Military Guy Carrying Gerber Downrange Best Tactical Tomahawk
Handle length can be an important for anything from chopping brush to breaching a door.

Handle length – The length of the handle a tomahawk has also has a significant effect on its suitability.  When splitting wood or performing precision chopping tasks such as removing debris or wreckage from around an injured individual, a shorter handle provides the user with significantly more control over the head.

It also provides less leverage.  This means that a tomahawk with a shorter handle will not generate as much force when chopping as a tomahawk with a longer handle.

A tomahawk with a relatively long handle provides the user with a significant advantage in both leverage and reach in a survival situation.

If the handle is designed well, the user can “choke up” on the handle when precision is needed or in self defense or in tight quarters.  You can then slide your hand down on the handle when more reach or more leverage is needed.

Handle material – Because a tomahawk is specifically designed for chopping, the handle must be every bit as tough as the steel that the head is made from. Traditionally hickory wood has long been the favored material of choice for tomahawk handles.  Today there are modern materials such as fiberglass reinforced nylon or even steel which are both tougher than wood.

It should be noted that all plastics or polymer handles are prone to degradation when exposed to ultraviolet light.  While wood may last longer, it’s prone to absorb moisture and, it often allows the head to become somewhat loose over an extended period of use.  To prolong the life of your tomahawk with a plastic handle, keep it out of the sunlight.

Head weight – The last aspect that you need to keep in mind is the weight of its head. Tomahawk heads that are optimized for chopping through tough materials are  heavy to provide them with enough momentum to drive the cutting edge into or through the material.

These tomahawks are also difficult to wield effectively in self defense situations because the heavy head makes then difficult to control.  Lighter tomahawk heads that are optimized for use in survival situations are relatively light weight to make them highly maneuverable.  This is preferred for mobility and also penetrating doors and walls when used as a breaching tool.

Choosing the correct tactical tomahawk design for your intended purpose is a lot like choosing the right knife.  Whether that’s a field bushcraft knife or surival knife, etc., it really boils down to choosing a cutting edge that is appropriate to the task  along with the appropriate head weight, handle length, steel type and handle material.

The 15 Top Tactical Tomahawks For Survival in 2019:


1. Gerber Downrange Tomahawk:

Although the Gerber Downrange Tomahawk is really designed to be a tactical breaching tool first and foremost. Featuring a three-tiered approach to tactical breaching, this hand axe features a large head made from 420 HC stainless steel with a tough Cerakote finish that is capable of chopping through drywall and turning doors to splinters! Below is a great video that outlines some of the primary selling points of the Gerber Downrange Tomahawk.

Also, it features a hammer head positioned opposite of the ax head which serves to get you through hinges, locks, doorknobs and anything else that’s might be in your way. Also, it features a 19.27 inch steel handle shaft with a pry bar at the end of the handle which is easily controlled by a cutaway grip in the ax head. Plus, it features desert tan G-10 handle scales to keep the tool firmly in your hands no matter the conditions.

  •  Gerber Downrange Military Tomahawk For Field Bushcraft SurvivalOverall Length: 19.275”
  • Weight: Unknown
  • Blade Width: 2.75″
  • Head Steel: 420 High Carbon
  • Rockwell Hardness: 50-55
  • Handle Shaft Material: Hand Wrapped Nylon Paracord

2. SOG Tactical Tomahawk model F01TN CP:

Although it’s billed as a tactical tomahawk, the SOG Tactical Tomahawk is actually specifically designed to be a multi-use tool. Often times, both military and law enforcement professionals have a need for a heavy duty tool that will breach, excavate, extract, remove obstacles.  The SOG Tactical Tomahawk is an extreme evolution of the original Vietnam Tomahawk.

It features a 2.75” wide head made from 420 stainless steel with a black, “hardcased”, coating and an unusual blade design with two round holes to make it lighter. It features a rather large spike opposite the blade that is very well suited for penetrating hard materials.  This is helpful when penetrating wooden doors or shattering car windows to facilitate extracting injured passengers. In addition, the head is secured to the fiberglass reinforced nylon (FRN) handle by two bolts and a metal ferrule for an extra tight fit. Plus, with an overall length of 15.75”, it provides significant reach when. Last, it comes with a heavy-duty, black, nylon sheath with a belt loop.

  • SOG Tactical Tomahawk F01TNOverall Length: 15.75”
  • Weight: 24 oz.
  • Blade Width: 2.75”
  • Head Steel: 420 Stainless Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: 51-53 HRC
  • Handle Shaft Material: Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon

3. SOG Fasthawk Tactical Tomahawk:

Although the SOG Fasthawk appears to be identical to the SOG Tactical Tomahawk at first glance, upon closer examination, you will see that there are minor, but significant, differences between the two. For instance, it features a 2” wide blade instead of a 2.75″ wide blade made from 420 stainless steel with a black, “hardcased” , coating and the same unusual blade design with two round holes to make it lighter.

Plus, like the SOG Tactical Tomahawk, it also features a rather large spike opposite the blade that is very well suited for emergency or survival duties. It features a 12.5″ fiberglass reinforced nylon (FRN) handle to which the head is secured by two bolts and a metal ferrule for an extra tight fit. Last, it too comes with a heavy-duty, black, nylon sheath with a belt loop.

  •  SOG Fasthawk TomahawkOverall Length: 12.5”
  • Weight: 19 oz.
  • Blade Width: 2”
  • Head Steel: 420 Stainless Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: 51-53 HRC
  • Handle Shaft Material: Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon

4. SOG Voodoo Hawk:

The SOG Voodoo Hawk was designed to be a combination of their Tactical Tomahawk and their FastHawk.  It features 3.5 inch blade made from 3Cr13 stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 51-53 HRC and black, “hardcased”, corrosion resistant, coating secured to the handle shaft with two bolts and a metal ferrule.

It also features a glass reinforced nylon handle shaft with a metal butt cap that both helps to balance the head as well as preventing the tomahawk from sliding out of the hand when in use. Lastly, it includes a heavy duty nylon belt sheath.

  • SOG Voodoo Tactical AxeOverall Length: 12. 5”
  • Weight: 28.5 oz.
  • Blade Width: 3.5”
  • Head Steel: 3Cr13 Stainless Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: 51-53 HRC
  • Handle Shaft Material: Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon


5. SOG Survival Hawk:

Specifically designed for use as a survival tool, the SOG Survival Hawk is a great option for any survival arsenal.  Featuring a 3 inch blade made from 2Cr high carbon tool steel with a black, “hardcased”, corrosion resistant coating.  It’s then balanced by a heavy duty spike on the opposite side secured to the 12.1 inch glass reinforced nylon handle shaft with three bolts.  The Survival Hawk is literally “ready” wherever you go.

In addition, it also features a ferrocerium fire starter rod in the handle, an integral nail puller on the spike.  It also has a textured hammering surface on the side. This makes the Survival Hawk from SOG is the perfect outdoor companion for your survival or camp knife.

  • SOG Survival HawkOverall Length: 12.1”
  • Weight: 19.5 oz.
  • Blade Width: 3”
  • Head Steel: 2Cr High Carbon Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: 17-19 HRC
  • Handle Shaft Material: Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon


6. SOG Throwing Hawks 3-pack:

Unlike the other tomahawks in the SOG line, the SOG Throwing Hawk is specifically designed for throwing.  It features a 1.75 inch blade made from 3Cr13MoV stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 50-56 HRC.  It’s equipped with two round holes in the blade to reduce weight balanced by a heavy duty spike on the opposite side.  It has a black, “hardcased”, coating to help prevent corrosion.

The throwing hawks feature a solid steel handle shaft with a paracord wrapped grip. Therefore, the balance, aerodynamics, and proportions of this tomahawk make it great throwing tomahawk.  With its all steel construction, it’s practically indestructible. But, best of all, when you purchase the SOG Throwing Hawk, you get three separate tomahawks for the price of one.  They all fit together in the included heavy duty nylon sheath.

  • SOG Throwing HawkOverall Length: 10.75”
  • Weight: 25 oz.
  • Blade Width: 1.75”
  • Head Steel: 3Cr13MoV Stainless Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: 50-56 HRC
  • Handle Shaft Material: Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon


7. Smith & Wesson Extraction & Evasion Tomahawk:

Manufactured by Taylor Brands (makers of Schrade, Old Timer, and Uncle Henry) for Smith & Wesson, the S & W Extraction and Evasion Tomahawk is a formidable survival tool. Significantly heavier than most other tactical tomahawks on the market with an overall weight of 35 oz. and featuring a head made from 3/8″, 1070, high carbon tool steel bar stock with a black, corrosion resistant, coating and a heavy duty spike positioned on the opposite side, this tactical tomahawk makes an awesome wilderness companion!

It also features a steel handle shaft with an overall length of 15.9″ and two removable handle scales made from Thermoplastic Elastomer (aka Krayton/Hypalon) with a slightly textured surface for a secure grip. Last, it includes a heavy duty canvas belt sheath with a snap closure.

  • Smith & Wesson Extraction TomahawkOverall Length: 15.9”
  • Weight: 35 oz.
  • Blade Width: Unknown
  • Head Steel: 1070 High Carbon Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Shaft Material: Krayton


8. Browning Shock N’ Awe Tactical Tomahawk:

Although the Browning Shock N’ Awe Tomahawk has a significantly shorter handle than most tactical tomahawks, it is still an awesome little tomahawk. Featuring a overall length of just 10.5 inches with a 2.75 inch blade made from 1055 high carbon tool steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 54 and black powder coat to inhibit corrosion, the head is balanced by a large, heavy duty, curved, penetration spike.

Also, it features a steel handle shaft with a hand-wrapped black nylon paracord grip and a generously-sized lanyard hole. Plus, it includes a Blade-Tech molded polymer sheath with a Tek-Lok belt clip that easily adjusts for carry angle and belt loop width.  Browning is synonymous with quality outdoor products, from trail and game cameras to sleeping bags and camping tents that are big enough for families.  They also make several accessories for 22 caliber rifles.

  • Browning Shock N Awe TomahawkOverall Length: 10.5”
  • Weight: Unknown
  • Blade Width: 2.75″
  • Head Steel: 1055 High Carbon Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: 54 HRC
  • Handle Shaft Material: Hand Wrapped Nylon Paracord


9. Kershaw Siege Tomahawk Knife:

The Kersha Siege Tomahawk is a great tactical model that has a full tang blade.  It’s designed to be a multi-functional tool that can do everything well including breaching doors and opening crates.  The back spike is great for penetration in rescue scenarios.  It also has a nail puller built into the handle which effectively doubles up as a pry bar.

Also, the riveted glass-filled nylon scales on the handle contribute to an extra secure grip. Last, it also includes a heavy duty, black, nylon belt sheath.  The coating is black oxide built for a rugged long term abuse.  This Tomahawk is great for survival, comping and just about any outdoor activity you can throw at it.

  • Kershaw TomahawkOverall Length: 16”
  • Weight: Unknown
  • Blade Width: 4.0″
  • Head Steel: 3Cr13 Steel Oxide Coated Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle steel: Glass Reinforced Nylon


10. CRKT Chogan T-Hawk:

Designed by custom bladesmith Ryan Johnson, the Columbia River Knife & Tool Chogan T-Hawk is designed to be a dedicated survival tool. Featuring a rather unique head shape that is not only sharpened on the leading edge but is also sharpened on the top edge but is lacking the customary spike on the opposite side, making it a rather unusual tactical tomahawk.

Made from SK5 high carbon tool steel with black, corrosion resistant, powder coat and a Rockwell Hardness of 54-55, the steel handle shaft is accompanied by two removable handle scales made from textured glass reinforced nylon with grip choils along the front for an enhanced grip. Last, it includes a MOLLE compatible Kydex sheath with a buckle strap.

  • CRKT ChoganOverall Length: 14”
  • Weight: 24.6 oz.
  • Blade Width: 2.93″
  • Head Steel: SK5 High Carbon Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: 54-55 HRC
  • Handle Shaft Material: Glass Filled Nylon


11. CRKT Kangee T-Hawk:

Like the CRKT Chogan T-Hawk, the Columbia River Knife & Tool Kangee T-Hawk is also designed by custom bladesmith Ryan Johnson. Featuring a rather unique head shape that is not only sharpened on the leading edge but is also sharpened on the top edge, unlike the Chogan T-Hawk, the Kangee T-Hawk does feature a spike opposite the cutting edge.

Also, it too is made from SK5 high carbon tool steel with black, corrosion resistant, powder coat and a Rockwell Hardness of 54-55 and, the steel handle shaft is accompanied by two removable handle scales made from textured glass reinforced nylon with grip choils along the front for an enhanced grip. Last, it includes a MOLLE compatible Kydex sheath with a buckle strap.

  • CRKT Kangee TomahawkOverall Length: 13.75”
  • Weight: 24.4
  • Blade Width: 2.93″
  • Head Steel: SK5 High Carbon Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: 54-55
  • Handle Shaft Material: Glass Filled Nylon


12. United Cutlery M48 Hawk Axe Tactical Tomahawk:

Designed specifically as a tactical survival tool, the United Cutlery M48 Hawk Axe is without a doubt a great option for any survivalist.  Featuring a wide, upswept, battle axe type blade for serious chopping and cutting combined with a head that is constructed of precision cast 2Cr13 stainless steel, the M48 Hawk Axe makes an efficient personal defense and breaching tool as well as a great camping tool.

Plus, the blade is securely attached to the sturdy, glass reinforced nylon, handle with three separate bolts to hold it in place and, it includes a nylon snap button sheath.

  • United Cutlery M-48 TomahawkOverall Length: 15”
  • Weight: Unknown
  • Blade Width: 3.75”
  • Head Steel: 2Cr13 Stainless Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Shaft Material: Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon


13. United Cutlery M48 Ranger Hawk Axe w/Compass:

Nearly identical to the United Cutlery M48 Hawk Axe, the M48 Ranger Hawk Axe is also designed specifically as a survival tool. Like the United Cutlery Hawk Axe, this tactical tomahawk features a wide, upswept, battle axe type blade for serious chopping, slashing, and cutting.  It has a head that is constructed of precision cast AUS-6 stainless steel which makes the M48 Ranger Hawk Axe an efficient personal defense and breaching tool as well as a great camping tool.

Plus, the blade is securely attached to the sturdy, olive drab, glass reinforced nylon, handle with three separate bolts to hold it in place. But, rather than the black handle featured on the Hawk Axe, the Ranger Hawk Axe features an olive drab handle with a paracord wrapping and it too includes a nylon snap button sheath and comes with a matching lensactic compass.

  •  United Cutlery M48 RangerOverall Length: 15”
  • Weight: Unknown
  • Blade Width: 3.75”
  • Head Steel: AUS-6 Stainless Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Shaft Material: Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon


14. Estwing Black Eagle Tomahawk:

Best known for their hammers, the American made Estwing Black Eagle Tomahawk is an excellent example of the quality tools they are famous for. This tomahawk features a head made from 1070 high carbon tool steel with a relatively narrow blade and a cutout to lessen the weight.

It also has a black, corrosion resistant coating, making it an awesome tactical tool. It also features an overall length of 16.25 inches with Estwing’s signature, all steel, handle shaft with the same shock absorbing rubber grip featured on their hammers.

  • Estwing Tactical TomahawkOverall Length: 16.25”
  • Weight: 27oz.
  • Blade Width: Unknown
  • Head Steel: 1070 High Carbon Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Shaft Material: Shock Absorbing Rubber


15. SOG FastHawk Tactical Tomahawk model F06TN CP:

Identical to the SOG Tactical Tomahawk model FO1TN CP in every way except for the finish on the head and the length of the tomahawk.  This tomahawk features a 2” wide head made from 420 stainless steel with a bright, polished, finish and an unusual blade design with two round holes to make it lighter. Like the F01TN CP, it features a rather large spike opposite the blade that is very well suited for penetrating hard materials such as wooden door as well as for shattering car windows to facilitate extracting injured passengers.

In addition, the head is secured to the fiberglass reinforced nylon (FRN) handle by two bolts and a metal ferrule for an extra tight fit. Plus, with an overall length of 12.75”, it provides a shorter more compact reach. Last, it comes with a heavy-duty, black, nylon sheath with a belt loop.

  • SOG Mini Tomahawk FastHawkOverall Length: 12.75”
  • Weight: 24 oz.
  • Blade Width: 2”
  • Head Steel: 420 Stainless Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness: 51-53 HRC
  • Handle Shaft Material: Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon


Wrapping Up & Parting Thoughts:

Adding a tactical tomahawk to your survival arsenal is no different than piecing together the right hunting accessories like laser rangefinders or two way radios for your next hunting trip.  A hatchet or an axe may be a better all around tool to take camping.  With that being said, a tactical tomahawk is still an excellent survival tool that can be used in a variety of methods.  It’s something that you can take with you on your next hunting trip while out hunting deer with your crossbow, compound bow or recurve bow, yet still be effective enough in the most dire survival circumstances.

Having a tactical tomahawk by your side can provide you a significant advantage out in the wild for both self protection and basic survival use.  Any accomplished survivalist will tell you that having a good variety of survival tools at your side in any life threatening situation is of the utmost importance.  Our list here isn’t all inclusive but it’s a good representation of some of the best tactical tomahawks on the market today.  As always, if you feel we’ve missed something, leave us a note in the comments section below!

Gerber Image Credits:  Gerber Gear on Facebook

Best Bushcraft Knives of 2019: Ratings & Reviews

If you’ve been around knives for a while, then you know the old saying is typically true: “The best type of knife you can own is the one you have on you when you need it.”  

Having a knife on you is far more important than the type of knife you have.  With that being said, if you are adding to your collection, there are definitely different uses for each type of knife.

Below are some of our favorite knives that fall into the bushcraft category.  All of them are adept in fieldcraft and can be utilized for any number of outdoor tasks.  Before we get into extreme detail on our favorites, we look at what makes a Bushcraft knife slightly different from other types of knives.  We’ve also listed our three favorites below in case you don’t feel like a lengthy read.

Our Top Three Picks

Ontario Blackbird Spear Point

Our rating

ONTARIO BLACKBIRD

TOP OVERALL PICK

Our rating

BENCHMADE BUSHCRAFTER

HIGH END PICK

Condor Bushlore

Our rating

CONDOR BUSHLORE

BUDGET PICK

Now that you’ve taken a look at our top three, let’s take a look at some of the differences that you can expect from a fieldcraft knife versus some of the other types that are out there.  There’s a number of differences, so let’s look at them in-depth.

If you don’t feel like a longer read, use the quick jump menu below to get to the part that answers whatever questions you may have.

What sets a Bushcraft Knife apart from the rest?

Bushcraft knives differ from survival knives and pocket knives.  They each have different uses which we will cover a little bit in detail below.

Survival Knives: Survival knives typically have a fixed blade and are good all around options that you can use for “anything.”  These are jack of all trade knives that are used for breaking glass, prying open doors, cutting into thick materials and have a set criteria.

Pocket Knives:  Pocket Knives are typically folding knives that you can carry on you daily that’s smaller in nature and can be used for a variety of different everyday tasks.

Bushcraft Knives: A Bushcraft knife, which we cover here should be considered as primarily a wood cutting tool and can be used effectively for notches, feathering and creating points on wooden objects.  It typically will not resemble a tactical knife looks wise and should have a blade that’s 3 to 6 inches in length and be extremely sharp.  Anything longer would probably fall into the machete category.

The shorter edge allows the bushcraft knife to be more maneuverable than longer survival knife blades.  It can also be extremely effective in skinning game and other basic bushcrafting tasks.  Bushcraft knives should be full-tang, fixed blade knives.  They should also have a flat grind and have a drop point blade, like many of their survival knife cousins.  While they can serve adequately as a tool for cutting fish like crappie after a fresh catch, it’s typically recommended you stick with a fileting knife for that task.

Similar to survival knives, they will typically have handles that vary in material.  Handle materials may include wood, micarta, and dense rubber or a firm plastic.

When choosing a bushcraft knife you should avoid blades longer than 6 inches, and start considering a machete or hatchet for heavy duty chopping and brush clearing.

Types of Knife Steel:

Similar to steels available for the other types of knives, the primary types of steel you will be dealing with for a bushcraft knife will be High Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel.

For a more in-depth look at knife steel, you can check out our breakdowns and the benefits of each by looking at this article here.  Here’s a basic summary for both:

High Carbon:  HC steel will hold an edge longer, but will rust faster.  It’s also softer which makes it easier to sharpen.  Oil the blade frequently to keep it rust free if you live in a wet climate.  Recommended High Carbon Steels are: 1000 Series (1045, 1095, etc.), 5160, O1, O6, W2

Stainless Steel:  SS will require more sharpening but will hardly ever rust. It’s a harder steel which makes it more of a pain to sharpen.  It will typically require less maintenance but also not hold as sharp of an edge.  Recommended Stainless Steels are : 400 Series (420, 440A/B/C), AUS Series (AUS-6/8/10), BG42, Bohler, S30V, VG10

Which Steel is Best for a Bushcraft knife?

Which steel is best for a Bushcraft knife?  While this is a loaded question, we will answer it as directly as we can.  If you are a collector, and have several knives, either type of knife steel is fine.

If this is your only knife, go with Stainless as it will allow you to have more versatility with the knife and less maintenance.  It may not hold an edge as well but it will take more abuse between care.

High Carbon is great but if you are looking for “one” knife that does it all, Stainless Steel is a better choice.  We’d still recommend a multi-knife approach (look at them as tools for specific jobs) when it comes to bushcraft, brush clearing, survival and knives you may pocket carry daily.

If you employ that approach, a High Carbon knife may make more sense.

Nine of the Best Bushcraft Knives for the Money:

Bushcraft knives are a great addition to any collection when preparing for a survival situation in advance.  Below we break down our top 10 favorites in more detail.


1. Benchmade Bushcrafter Knife:

 

Benchmade is notorious for quality.  They produce some of the highest quality outdoor/survival knives on the market today and the Bushcrafter is no different.

Here are the Specs for the Benchmade Bushcrafter:

  • Benchmade Bushcrafter KnifeOverall Length: 9.2 inches
  • Blade Length: 4.43 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: S30V Stainless
  • Rockwell Hardness: 58-60 HRC
  • Handle Material: G-10 Plastic
  • Weight: 7.72 oz.

The Bushcrafter features a Stainless Steel Blade made from S30V stainless steel which contains 1.45% carbon and is one of the better steels for knives.

It’s also made in the USA which is important to some consumers and should be noted that the production is not shipped overseas.  Unfortunately that means that it comes with a higher price tag, but the quality is worth the cost.


2. Condor Knife & Tool Bushlore 4.375 Inch Blade:

Condor Knife & Tool produces some quality knives for people on a budget.  This knife is an import so that’s something to consider, but that’s also what makes it much easier on your wallet.

Here are the specs for the Bushlore 4.375 Inch Blade:

  • Condor Knife Tool Bushlore Bushcraft KnifeOverall Length: 9.5 inches
  • Blade Length: 4.375
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: 1075 Stainless
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: Wood
  • Weight: 12 oz.

The CKT Bushlore is a great all around option for a Bushcraft knife and it’s simplist
ic design make it one of the more popular knives out there if you are looking for something budget friendly.

This knife has excellent value, making it a top wallet friendly pick.  This knife is great for chopping as well.  Grabbing the knife by the end can make this a very effective yet maneuverable tool for chopping wood and creating points.  They also make a smaller version with a 3 inch blade as well.


3. Buck Knives Selkirk:

No comparison list would be complete without Buck having a knife making the list.  The Selkirk makes a great bushcraft knife at an affordable price point.

Here are the Selkirk Specifications:

  • Buck Knives SelkirkOverall Length: 9.5 inches
  • Blade Length: 4.625 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: 420HC
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Weight: 7.6 oz.

While most of Buck’s knives are American made, this one is made overseas which is what helps keep the price point lower than the top tier knives.  Even though it’s not made in the US, the warranty is still the same and Buck has one of the best lifetime warranties in the knife business.

Price wise this knife is a budget friendly pick, making it a great option for anyone that’s trying to save a few bucks while expanding their knife collection.  This wouldn’t be the single knife we’d choose if you were looking for a “one-size fits all” type of knife, but it’s a worth addition to an established collection.  The knife handle is made of flat steel at the end, making it usable as a hammer in a pinch.


4. Spyderco G-10 Bushcraft Knife:

It’s tough not to like everything about the Spyderco G-10 Bushcraft Knife.  We’ve shown on some of our other review articles that we are Spyderco fans.  The G-10 Bushcraft is no different.

Here are the G-10 Bushcraft Specs:

  • Spyderco G-10 Bushcraft KnifeOverall Length: 8.75 inches
  • Blade Length: 4 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: O-1
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: G-10 Plastic
  • Weight: 7.75 oz.

The Bushcraft Knife by Spyderco is a collaboration between Tactical Buchrafter CHris Claycombe, BushcraftUK.com and Spyderco.  They set out to make a blade that would rival some of their fixed blade competitors in both quality and use.

The Bushcraft handles chopping, slicing, whittling and processing game without any issues whatsoever.  It’s our first non-stainless blade in our series and the O-1 High Carbon is easy to sharpen.  It also holds an edge extremely well.  The knife also comes standard with a fitted sheath making it easy to carry right out of the box.  The blade is fully tanged which is different than most of Spyderco’s most popular offerings that are more modern styled pocket knives.  Overall, it’s hard not to like what Spyderco does with most of their knives and the Bushcraft is no exception to that.


5. Tops Brothers of Bushcraft:

Tops knocks it out of the park with their Bushcraft knife, but like the Benchmade, the price tag reflects it.  This knife has some extra features that we will dive into a little deeper, but first let’s look at the specs.

Here are the specs of the Tops BOB Knife:

  • TOPS Brothers of Bushcraft Field KnifeOverall Length: 10 inches
  • Blade Length: 4.5 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: 1095 HC
  • Rockwell Hardness: 56-58 RC
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Weight: 9.6 oz.

The only thing we don’t love about the TOPS BOB is the price tag.  With that being said, it’s worth considering this knife if you are already looking at our top choice in the quality region which is the Benchmade Bushcrafter.  The extra weight behind the BOB Fieldcraft knife is excellent and helps make it a highly effective chopping tool.  While the knife already has some decent out of the box features, let’s look at what’s been added to make the BOB stand out.

The handle has a bow drill divot which was specifically designed for starting fires.  The pommel of the blade is the tang, simply wrapped in the knife grips making it excellent for Batoning.  The thumb area on the hilt of the blade is also formed to provide a better grip when doing other tasks outside of basic bushwork, like skinning game or helping setup snare traps.  Overall the BOB is a great choice that you won’t go wrong with if you can afford the point of entry from a cost perspective.


6. Schrade Full Frontier Drop Point:

Schrade’s bushcraft knife is the cheapest on our list.  The quality is pretty solid for the price which is consistent among other Schrade knives on the market today. Let’s look at the specs.

Schrade Full Frontier Drop Point Specs:

  • Schrade Full FrontierOverall Length: 10.4 inches
  • Blade Length: 5.05 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: 1095 HC
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: TPE Handle
  • Weight: 16 oz.

Schrade does a good job of combining an extremely low price point with decent quality.  There have been some issues with people not being completely thrilled with the powder coating the blade comes with on top of the 1095 high carbon steel, but that can be removed manually or eventually through wear and tear.

If you are looking to pickup a serviceable field knife on a budget, the Schrade Full Frontier will make an excellent choice as a stop gap until you can afford a top tier quality knife.


7. Morakniv Carbon Black Tactical Bushcraft Knife:

Moakniv is a budget knife maker and while we normally don’t focus too much on lower cost knives as some of our favorites, the Black Tactical Bushcraft knife makes our list.

Here are the Morakniv Specs: 

  • Morakniv Black Bushcrafter KnifeOverall Length: 9.1 inches
  • Blade Length: 4.3 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: HC/Tungsten
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: Molded Rubber
  • Weight: 5.7 Oz (with sheath)

Our primary knock on the Morakniv is that it’s only 3/4 of a tang, and not a full tang like the other favorites.  That’s really the only knock on this knife outside the fact that the warranty is only one year, which pales in comparison to some of the higher end knives like Buck who warranty their knives for the lifetime of the blade.

Let’s move on to what we like about the Morakniv.  First and foremost is the cost, which is generally cheaper than most higher end knives.  Next is that the spine of the blade is ground specifically to be used with a firestarter.  You can purchase the knife both with or without an issued firestarter.  We’d recommend buying the one with it fully equipped, but you’ll be coughing up a few extra bucks to get there.  The Rubber handle is ergonomic and allows the blade to be gripped easily and the blade comes razor sharp right out of the box.  Overall this is a tough knife that will get the job done for anyone on a budget.  If it starts to wear through after a couple years, it’s not going to be all that expensive to simply replace it.


8. Ontario SK-5 Blackbird:

The Ontario SK-5 Blackbird is a solid knife with a unique design.  It’s a spear point blade that serves a bushcraft purpose not only as a knife, but as a utility tool that can be attached to a stick and then used as a spear.  It fits our criteria well and we like the features that the SK-5 offers.

Here are the Ontario RTAK II specs:

  • Ontario Blackbird SK-5 Field KnifeOverall Length: 10.0 inches
  • Blade Length: 5.0 inches
  • Blade Type: Spear Point
  • Blade Material: 154 CM Stainless
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: G10
  • Weight: 12 oz.

The blade itself is made out of 154 CM American made stainless steel.  While the tang is thinner than some of the other knives on the list, the steel feels very sturdy allowing this knife to perform well out in the brush.  The handle is a G10 Plastic that’s finished well and holds a grippy finish on the handle where your hands lay over the grip.

We like the blade machining that’s been done, as the knife feels like a quality knife which is what OKT is known for.  The sheath is a fabric material that’s tan, and carries a somewhat tactical look & feel to it (it’s Molle compatible).  The knife itself was designed by Paul Sheiter, looking for a simplistic knife that could be used out in the brush for a variety of purposes, without complicating the actual design.


9. Helle Utvaer:

Below is a write up from one of our readers, Tony Lugosy of Romania.  He took the time to write in to the site and give us some feedback on the Helle Utvauer, so we wanted to include it.

Helle Utvaer Bushcraft Knife

Here are the Helle Utvaer specs:

  • Overall Length: 11 inches
  • Blade Length:  3.93 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: 12C27 Stainless
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: Wood
  • Weight: 5.64 oz.

In just a few words, my hands on experience with the Helle Utvaer was and still is one of the best.

I bought the knife as soon as in was launched in 2014, mainly because I was looking for a full tang bushcraft/outdoor piece, small enough to be carried in normal day trips, but sturdy enough to sustain a 10 day full outdoor trip. I was attracted by the overall shape and classical features.

I selected the Utvaer due to the Sandvik steel used by Helle. Helle uses a patented sandwich steel, with a hat inner layer, and two softer “protection” layers on the outside – Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel.  I took into consideration that I also do some fishing, and a good stainless blade is a must. I live in Romania, and we don’t have always the best weather possible…

This knife is the creation of Jesper Voxnaes, and for the knife guys “out there” this should be enough.

The blade is the classical Scandinavian drop point, meaning that the drop in the spine of the blade is gentle, offering a good blade cross section even close to the point.

The grind is also scandi – excellent edge retention even in harsh use, easy to sharpen, cuts like a razor if you hone the blade on a 8000 grit waterstone. The spine also generates a good spark if you use it with a ferro rod. I used the knife for batoning, and, even if the blade is only 2.8 mm thick, the blade did the job.

The handle is obviously curly birch – here we have no surprises from the northsmen – good balanced, and provided with two tube rivets. The shape of the handle offers perfect handling, and the smooth satin finish insures a very good grip.

If you have large hands, the handle might seem a little bit small, but in normal circumstances the handling is perfect.

I used a lot of knifes, factory made and custom, but this one seems to stuck on me.

The sheath was a little bit disappointing, but I made a Kydex one, with a ferrocerium holder, and everything is now OK. The original one was made from genuine leather, but the knife was not firmly kept inside. The sheath allows a good room for the knife to fall if you don’t pay attention. I still have no answer from Helle regarding this matter, but, at the end of the day, I bought a knife, and not a sheath.


Wrapping Up & Parting Advice:

Finding the best bushcraft knife can be difficult because so many people have different interpretations when they are looking for a field knife.  It’s not as simple as just picking a survival knife that you think can meet every criteria in the outdoors that you may have.

Knives should be looked at as a complete system and not as a one size fits all remedy.  Any of the knives we have featured here will do their part very well as a field knife in anyone’s knife rotation.  As always, if you feel there’s one we have missed, feel free to drop us a line.

What are the Best Tactical Knives? Top Military Style Knife Reviews

Although the term “tactical knife” is used to describe a wide range of knife types these days, the term actually refers to knives that are specifically designed for self defense & military utility.  The term “tactical knives” also covers modern day “combat knives.”

A Combat Knife is often designed to serve several different purposes. Combat Knives are generally purely utilitarian and they tend to have a very rugged appearance.

Tactical knives can have either a fixed blade or a folding blade based on the designated purpose.  While a soldier may issued a fixed-blade Combat Knife, he might also choose to carry a folding Tactical Knife as well. On the other hand, due to varying knife laws governing the type of knife a civilian is legally allowed to carry, most civilians tend to prefer folding Tactical Knives of fixed-blade Tactical Knives.

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The first step in choosing a Tactical Knife is to decide whether you prefer a fixed blade knife or a folding knife and then, to decide what length of blade you prefer as well as what type of blade design you prefer. Then, other factors that you will need to consider are the type of steel that the blade is made from, the design of the knife’s handle and, the materials from which it is made.

Tactical Knife Buyer’s Guide

When choosing a Tactical Knife, just like any other knife, there are a number of things you need to consider.  You’ll first need to decide whether you prefer a fixed-blade knife or a folding knife and then choose what you want from the blade design, blade length, blade steel, handle design and, the handle materials.

Let’s look at the five most important factors in a little bit more detail to help narrow down potential options and ensure you have asked the right questions before purchasing a tactical knife.

1. Fixed Blade vs. Folding Knives

Fixed and Folding Tactical Knives
In most tactical circumstances, you should have both a fixed blade and folding tactical knife.

The first step to choosing a Tactical Knife is to decide whether you prefer a fixed blade knife or a folding knife since each type has both advantages and disadvantages.

Fixed Blade Knives: Fixed-blade knives have tangs which enable a bladesmith to affix either guards or bolsters to them to prevent the user’s hand from accidentally sliding forward onto the blade and parry potential strikes during self-defense situations.

Because a fixed-blade knife’s tang extends into the knife’s handle, a fixed-blade knife is inherently stronger than a folding knife. But, at the same time, a fixed-blade knife can be more cumbersome to carry and difficult to conceal.

Folding Knives:  Folding Tactical Knives are the opposite.  They allow the user to fold them in half, often using a self-assisted opening mechanism.  Folding knifes are good for any type of tactical utility that isn’t self defense related.

Because folding tactical knives lack extended tangs, they are not as strong as a fixed-blade knife. However, because most folding tactical knives are small enough to easily fit in a trouser pocket, they are significantly more convenient to carry and far easier to conceal than a fixed-blade tactical knife.

Because knife carry laws vary so widely from state to state, it is a wise idea to consult the American Knife & Tool Institute web site to find out what types of knives are legal for carry in your state before making your choice between a fixed-blade and a folding tactical knife.

2. Blade Length

Tactical Blade Length
Blade length matters depending on your circumstances.

Another factor to be considered when choosing a tactical knife is the length of the blade.  There are several reasons why this aspect of tactical knife design is important.

The longer a tactical knife’s blade is, the more reach it will have and the greater the distance at which the user can utilize it in self defense. But on the opposite side, the longer a tactical knife’s blade is, the heavier the entire knife will be.  This means it will be slower to use and harder to manage in close quarters. Longer blades are also significantly more difficult to conceal.

On the other hand, tactical knives with shorter blades require you to be in close quarters to utilize it effectively for self-defense.  Tactical knives with shorter blades are also lighter than their counterparts with longer blades which makes them faster to use and easier to conceal.

Typically speaking, fixed blade tactical knives will have longer blades and folding tactical knives will have shorter blades.  Longer blades are generally more well regarded for self defense as where folding knives are more well known for basic mission ready tactical tasks

3. Blade Steel

Tactical Knife Steel Types
The type of steel used for the blade always matters in knife manufacturing.

Yet another factor to be considered when choosing a tactical knife is the type of steel from which the blade is constructed. For instance, all blade steels fall into one of two categories consisting of high carbon Plain Tool Steels and Stainless Steels and each type of blade steel has both advantages and disadvantages.

The two most important determining factors when choosing a tactical knife blade steel are its strength and its toughness. However, because these two terms can be somewhat confusing, the strength of a blade steel is a measure of its ability to bend without breaking and then return to its original shape whereas, the toughness of a blade steel is a measure of its ability to withstand chipping and cracking.

While strong blade steels are able to withstand extreme lateral forces, they are often not particularly tough, while tougher blade steels are able to withstand edge rolling and edge chipping, they are often not particularly strong.   You’ll also want to factor in the abrasion resistance of the steel, which is a measure of its ability to hold an edge and which is directly related to its Rockwell Hardness.

This means that sometimes you will see tactical knife blades listed with a Rockwell Hardness which is designated as a number followed by the letters HRC (ex. 58-59 HRC) which designates the use of the Rockwell C scale.  The lower numbers indicate softer blade steels and higher number indicating harder blade steels.

Knife blades with a Rockwell Hardness of 52 to 54 HRC represent the low end of the scale whereas, knife blades with a Rockwell Hardness of 58 to 62 HRC represent the high end of the scale

High carbon Plain Tool Steels are generally stronger and tougher than stainless blade steels and,they are significantly easier to sharpen due to the lack of Chromium Carbides in the steel.  Unfortunately they do not hold an edge as well as stainless blade steels do and, they require significantly more care to keep them corrosion free. Stainless blade steels are generally not as strong or as tough as high carbon Plain Tool Steels and, they are often significantly more difficult to sharpen.  They also require far less care to keep them corrosion free.

4. Handle Design

Tactical Knife Handle Design
Handle design is important for ergonomics.

When choosing a tactical knife, it is very important to chose a knife with an ergonomic handle design that is sized to fit your hand and which is comfortable when holding the blade either up or down depending on what you feel is easiest to grip.

Some knife users prefer to hold the knife blade up in self defense situations while others prefer to have the knife blade pointed down in order to parry incoming strikes.

Overall, handle design can be a personal preference with regards to ergonomics, so it’s important to remember that when you are field testing different types of knives.

5. Handle Material

Steel Knife Handle Material
Handle Material is extremely important for grip.

Lastly, when choosing a tactical knife, the type of material that the handle is made from should be part of your decision point. Knife handle materials can all be divided into two categories consisting of natural handle materials such as stag antler, exotic hardwoods and, synthetic handle materials such Kirinite, Delrin, Micarta and, G10.

While most natural handle materials are chosen because they are aesthetically pleasing, most synthetic handle materials are chosen because they are tough. But, there are exceptions to this rule such the material Kirinite which is a synthetic handle material that is both decorative and tough.

In addition, as a general rule, while most natural handle materials are chosen because they are pretty, the vast majority of them will absorb moisture, making them prone to eventually decompose.  Most synthetic handle materials are chosen because they are tough and are impervious to the absorption of moisture as well as to chipping and cracking.

There is also the issue of the texture that is added to the handle material. For instance, smooth handles are far more prone to twist or slip in the user’s hand when wet and thus, most tactical knives have some sort of texture added to the surface of their handles to provide a more positive grip.


Top 5 Tactical Fixed Blade Knives

As mentioned, tactical fixed blade knives are best used for self defense situations.  Folding knives are better used for mission ready tactical purposes, or if you just really want a folding knife that looks “tactical” to impress your buddies.

Fixed blade knives serve a different purpose though.  They are not your standard survival knives (like these here) as they are used more for self defense, and should be considered more as part of an overall “package” and not a stand alone knife that “does it all.”

Below are the top 5 tactical fixed blade knives on the market in 2019 for military ready purposes.


1. US Army KA-BAR

One of the most iconic Combat Knives in existence, the KA-BAR U.S. Army knife is a fixed-blade tactical knife that features an overall length of 11 7/8″ with a Clip Point blade design measuring 7″ in length.  It has a Saber Grind and is made from non-stainless, 1095 Cro-Van, high carbon, Plain Tool Steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 56-58 HRC.

US Army Ka-Bar

This knife also features dual steel quillions with a Rat Tail Tang and a beautiful, 5 1/4 inch, stacked leather handle combined with a steel pommel cap.  The blade, quillion and, pommel cap are all coated with a black, powdered metal, coating. In addition, the knife includes a heavy duty leather sheath which is made to stand up to any type of mission ready tactical abuse you can throw at it.

The Army KA-Bar is one of our favorites and one of the most popular tactical knives on the market.  It’s used by many members of the US Military and is a reliable option for anyone looking for a tactical knife.


2. SOG Pentagon

An excellent example of more moderately sized fixed-blade tactical knife, the SOG Pentagon features an overall length of 9 3/4″ with a Spear Point blade design measuring 5″ in length with a Double Bevel Grind made from AUS-8 stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 57-58 HRC.

SOG Pentagon
This knife also features a stainless steel bolster with a Hidden Tang and a highly ergonomic, 4 3/4 inch, Krayton Rubber handle with deep checkering for very positive grip. In addition, the knife includes a black, ballistic nylon, sheath.

Designed by McHenry and Williams, the Benchmade Infidel is an out-the-front, automatic opening, tactical knife that features a closed length of 5″ inches with a 3 7/8” Spear Point blade made from semi-stainless D2 steel with a Double Bevel Grind and a Rockwell Hardness of 60-62 HRC. Also, this knife features Benchmade’s out-the-front automatic opening mechanism with a sculpted handle made entirely from 6061-T6 Aluminum with a right hand only, tip down only, stainless steel pocket clip.

Overall the SOG Pentagon is a solid pick – just like their other tactical gear line which includes military style tactical tomahawks.


3. Gerber Silver Trident 

Designed in part by Chief Jim Watson, an original plank holder of SEAL Team 2, this fixed blade knife is nothing but tactical.  Just glancing at it, you know it is meant for serious business.

Gerber Silver Trident

The Silver Trident features a double edged clip point blade that is partially serrated on both top and bottom.  The heat treated blade is made of 154CM steel and shows a Rockwell Hardness of 59-61.  This means the knife is very tough and can be sharpened to a razor edge.  The blade is finished in a black coating that reduces visibility in low light conditions and helps prevent corrosion.

The handle is made of DuPont Hytrel, which is a high quality polymer that comes in various forms.  The center of the handle is extremely hard, while the surface is soft and textured so the user can maintain a sure grip in all conditions.

In short this knife performs and looks good while doing it.


4. Cold Steel Trail Master

The Cold Steel Trail Master is a fixed-blade Bowie Knife that features an overall length of 14 1/2″ with a Clip Point blade design measuring 9 1/2″ in length. Also, this knife is constructed from your choice of either (non-stainless) O1 high carbon Plain Tool Steel or laminated San Mai III steel with a Flat Grind and an unknown Rockwell Hardness.

Cold Steel Trail Master

In addition, it features a quillion made from a single brass oval along with Hidden Tang construction and a 5/1/8 inch, deeply checkered, “Kray-Ex” (Kraton) handle and includes an extremely well designed “Secure-Ex” (Kydex) sheath.

Overall, the trail master is another high quality production from Cold Steel, who is a knife manufacturer that is synonymous with quality knives.


5. Cold Steel Recon Tanto

The Cold Steel Recon Tanto is a fixed blade tactical knife that features an overall length of 11 3/4″ with a American Tanto Point blade design measuring 7″ in length with a flat Saber Grind.  It also features a black Tuff-Ex (Diamond Like Carbon), coating made from VG-1 stainless steel with an unknown Rockwell Hardness (probably 58-61 HRC).

Cold Steel Recon Tanto

Also, this knife features a single integral quillion adjacent to the cutting edge combined with a Hidden Tang which is covered by a very ergonomic handle design with deeply checkered Kray-Ex (Krayton) rubber for a very positive grip even when wet. In addition, the knife includes a heavy duty Secure-Ex (Kydex) sheath.

While nylon or other synthetic fabric sheaths are typically fine, a Kydex sheath is an excellent choice as it will allow the knife to “snap” into place and stay there until it’s determined the knife is in need. Cold steel makes a number of great products (including machetes) and the Recon is no exception to their arsenal.


Top 5 Tactical Folding Knives:

Below you’ll find our favorite tactical folders that will operate very well in any tactical situation.  Assuming you don’t need a fixed blade and are good with a pocket carry tactical folding knife, below are 5 of our favorites that you can’t go wrong with.

We will jump in and look at each knife in detail by examining the Blade Design, Handle Material, Length and Product Features.


1. Benchmade Griptillian

The Benchmade Griptillian is an assisted opening folding tactical knife that features a closed length of 4 5/8″ inches with a 3 5/8” Drop Point blade made from 154CM stainless steel with a Saber Grind and a Rockwell Hardness of 59-61 HRC.

Benchmade Griptillian Green

Also, the blade of this knife is available either with or without serrations and it is available with either a satin finish or a black, epoxy powder coated, finish. In addition, this knife features Benchmade’s axis assisted opening mechanism w/thumb stud and a Liner Lock locking mechanism with 420J2 stainless steel liners.

It also features a glass filled nylon handle with a right hand only, tip down only, stainless steel pocket clip.  Benchmade knives are synonomous with quality, and we are huge fans of their knives.  In fact, the Benchmade 940  McHenry is one of our favorite standard EDC pocket knives on the market today.


2. Gerber Covert w/F.A.S.T.

The Gerber Covert is an assisted opening folding tactical knife based on an improved version (Applegate-Fairbairn) of the famous British Sykes-Fairbairn fixed-blade dagger that was issued to British soldiers during World War II. It bears both U.S. Army Colonel Rex Applegate’s and, British Royal Marine Lieutenant William Fairbairn’s signatures.

Gerber Covert with FAST

The Gerber Covert features a closed length of 5″ with a Spear Point blade design measuring 3 3/4″ in length with a Double Bevel Grind and a black, titanium coated, finish made from an unknown stainless steel with an unknown Rockwell Hardness.

This knife features a very ergonomic handle design with textured, G10, handle scales combined with Gerber’s F.A.S.T. assisted opening mechanism and a Piston Lock locking mechanism and includes a right hand only, tip down only, steel, pocket clip.


3. Benchmade Model 531

Designed by Joe Pardue to be a more rugged version of the Model 530, the Benchmade Model 531 is a manual opening folding tactical knife that features a closed length of 4 3/16″ inches with a 3 1/4” Drop Point blade made from 154CM stainless steel.

Benchmade 531

It has a deep Saber Grind and a Rockwell Hardness of 58-61 HRC. In addition, this knife features Benchmade’s proprietary Axis Lock locking mechanism with 420J2 stainless steel liners and black, contoured, G10 handle scales with an ambidextrous, tip up only, stainless steel pocket clip.

As with other Benchmade knives, it’s almost impossible to find a better quality knife manufacturer for folding knives.  You should expect to pay a little more price wise though, as the steel that benchmade uses can get quite costly.  The machine work on their knives is second to none.


4. Cold Steel Hold Out II

Designed to be an easily concealed folding tactical knife, the Cold Steel Holdout II has an exceptionally thin profile and a purpose specific design. It features closed length of 5″ with a Spear Point blade design measuring 4″ in length with a Fat Grind made from CTS-XHP stainless steel with an unknown Rockwell Hardness.

Cold Steel Hold Out

It also features a very ergonomic, 5 inch, handle design combined with a manual opening mechanism and a Lockback locking mechanism with black, textured, G10 handle scales and an ambidextrous, tip up only, stainless steel, pocket clip.

Cold Steel has a number of high quality knives and the Hold Out II is one of our favorites for any tactical utility situation.


5. Spyderco Yojimbo 2

The Yojimbo 2 is a tactical folder designed by highly regarded knife fighting expert Michael Janich.  Prior Janich designs include the BeWharned and the original Yojimbo.  With this folder, Janich incorporated all of the best features of the original plus added a few refinements.

Spyderco Yojimbo 2

It uses the highly effective Wharncliffe blade, which is widely regarded for its ability to slice and cut by transferring all of the energy all the way to the tip.  The blade has a straight edge, hollow ground blade made of S30V steel.

The knife handle uses aggressively textured G10, which is a very durable polymer resin.  With G10, the knife is not likely to slip from the user’s hand even when wet from sweat and blood.

As with several of Janich’s designs, the Yojimbo 2 is designed to be used with a thumb forward position.  This gives the user a very strong grip and maximum cutting power.

The Yojimbo 2 has been in high demand by people who know fine knives ever since it was introduced.


Wrap Up & Decision Points:

As you can see, when choosing tactical knife, there many different brand names and numerous different blade designs, blade steels, handle designs, handle materials as well as numerous different price points to choose from. In addition, they each differ from classic folding knives in that rather than being designed to be carried in a belt pouch, they instead feature pocket clips that enable them to be accessed and deployed quickly.

It should be noted that many U.S. state’s laws prevent civilians from carrying any knife that the powers that be deem to be inappropriate for everyday use. Therefore, in order to combat such unfair knife laws, an organization has come into existence that is called Knife Rights which bills itself as the NRA of knives.

If you state has laws that prevent you from owning or carrying an automatic opening knife, an assisted opening knife, a Balisong Knife, a Bowie Knife or, any other type of knife or, has laws that restrict blade length to a given size, then you should consider joining Knife Rights since they do work diligently to reverse unfair knife laws.

How to Sharpen a Knife Properly: Hunting & Survival Blade Sharpening Tips

The actual process of honing your pocket knife, survival knife or hunting knife’s edge of your knife’s blade is a relatively simple process which may seem like it requires little explanation.

But there’s a lot that actually goes into sharpening your knife properly.  For example, different types of blade steels and different types of blade grinds require different grits and different honing angles.  You also need to be aware of what type of sharpener you are using for the knife you own. Bushcraft or field knives will more than likely be sharpened by a pocket sharpener as you will have them out in the field.

It’s also important to have the proper whetstone for the job.  Finding the right whetstone can be complicated, yet it’s an integral part of the knife sharpening process requiring a more detailed explanation.

If you do not yet understand the difference between a Flat Grind and a Saber Grind, a water stone and an oil stone, an India Stone and an Arkansas Stone, then read on and everything you need to know about how to sharpen your knife will be explained in detail.

Whetstone Basics:

Before we examine the actual process of honing a knife blade’s edge, let’s first examine the nature of whetstones.

For example, whetstones are divided into different groups consisting of naturally occurring stones such as Japanese Water Stones and Arkansas Oil Stones and man made stones such as Crystalon (aluminum oxide) and India Stones (silicon carbide).

Also, both natural and manmade whetstones are classified as either water stones or oil stones which means that they are meant to be used with either water or oil as a lubricant.

In addition, there are additional types of man made whetstones such as diamond hones and ceramic hones that can be used either with or without water to lubricate them.

Plus, both natural and man made whetstones are available in different grits with the more coarse grits being more abrasive and the finer grits being less abrasive.

The primary reason that it is important to know and understand all of that is because different knives with different types of blade grinds need to be sharpened at different angles in order to achieve the proper type of edge.

So, let’s start with a description of blade grinds but, in order to do that, we first need to define some terminology.

Blade Grind 101:

In the case of a Saber Grind or a Hollow grind, the line located on the side of the blade above the cutting edge that extends from the back of the blade to the tip.

This is then created by the removal of metal from the face of the bar stock is called the Primary Bevel Line and the line that descends from the back of the Primary Bevel Line to the back of the Cutting Edge is called the Plunge Line.

Also, the widest cross section of any knife blade is called the Spine.

Therefore, a Saber Grind is a blade grind who’s Primary Bevel Line is located low on the face of the blade, close to the Cutting Edge, with either flat or slightly concave Primary Bevels so that it creates a relatively thick Primary Bevel.

A Hollow Grind however is similar to a Saber Grind but, its Primary Bevel Line is positioned much higher on the face of the blade and its Primary Bevel is distinctly concave so that it creates a relatively thin Primary Bevel.

With a Flat Grind, there is no Primary Bevel Line because the face of the blade is ground flat from the Cutting Edge to the Spine which creates an edge that is sharper than a Saber Grind and tougher than a Hollow Grind.

Consequently, knives meant for heavy-duty use generally have Saber Grinds whereas, knives meant for general purpose use generally have Flat Grind and, knives meant for hunting generally have Hollow Grinds.

Therefore, blades with Saber Grinds require sharpening at much higher edge bevel angles (25 to 30 degrees) than blades with Flat Grinds or Hollow Grinds.

This is important so that they can withstand the shock generated when the knife is used to chop and, by the same token, blades with Hollow Grinds will need to be sharpened at much lower edge bevel angles (10 to 15 degrees).

Blades with Flat Grinds will need to be sharpened at angles between the two depending of the thickness of the blade’s Spine.


Blade Steel Grinding Tips:

In addition, different blade steels and Rockwell Hardness’s will require different grits and sometimes even different whetstone materials to sharpen them.

For instance, knives with relatively soft blades such as 1095 or SK-5 ranging from 50-55 RHC are generally used for large, heavy, blades with Saber Grinds and thus, although they sharpen relatively quickly, they also tend to incur the greatest amount of damage to their edges and thus, they often need the highest degree of repair most often.

Therefore, when sharpening a knife with a Saber Grind made from a softer blade steel, start with a coarse grit and progress to a finer grit.

But, leave the edge rough because it will dull quickly the next time you use it. On the other hand, for knives with relatively hard blades such as 154-CM, ATS-34, or D2 around 58-63 HRC with either Flat or Hollow Grinds, start with a medium grit and progress to a fine grit.

Then, if the blade has a Hollow Grind with a particularly thin Primary Bevel, then you might want to polish the cutting edge with an extra-fine grit.


Types of Whetstones:

For those of you who are not familiar with either of these types of whetstones, Japanese Water Stones are mined in the mountains of Japan.

They are made from from ancient deposits of metamorphic stone that consists of tiny silicate particles suspended in a clay matrix.

As a result, the fine crystals they produce when sharpening a knife blade tend to remove the steel very quickly while also polishing the surface.

Arkansas Oil Stones on the other hand are mined in the mountain of Arkansas.

They come from ancient deposits of Novaculite which is thought to be a metamorphic sandstone.

Novaculite also produces fine crystals when use to sharpen a knife blade and, it too, has the property of removing steel relatively quickly while also polishing the surface.

Then, there are man made whetstones made from powdered, industrial grade, diamonds as well as from silicon carbide impregnated ceramic which do not require any sort of lubrication.

But, regardless of which type of whetstone you choose, the process of sharpening a knife blade is the same.

For instance, depending on the type of whetstone you are using, you may first need to lubricate it either with water or honing oil.

Then, you start by grasping the knife by the handle and placing the edge against the whetstone at a 10 degree to 30 degree angle depending on the thickness of the Primary Bevel and then, slowly move the entire length of the cutting edge across the whetstone while maintaining the same angle. Then, you turn the blade over onto its opposite side and perform the same action for that side.

Then, you continue to perform this action, alternating from side to side, until the edge reaches the desired sharpness. However, if you are one of the many people who has difficulty maintaining a consistent angle during honing, then there are several different types of honing aids on the market that will enable you to hone a fine edge on any type of knife blade.


Wrap Up:

Thus, as you can see, the process of sharpening a knife blade actually starts with choosing the correct type of whetstone in the proper grit based upon the type of steel the knife’s blade is made from and it’s Rockwell Hardness.

In addition, the correct honing angle is determined by the relative thickness of the of the Secondary Bevel which is, in turn, governed by the type of blade grind.

Last, as a general rule, manmade whetstones such as Crystalon and India Stones are the cheapest and work well for cutting initial, secondary, bevels or quickly repairing damaged edges whereas, natural whetstones such as Japanese Water Stones and Arkansas Oil Stones are more expensive but, do a better job of creating, extremely sharp edges.

On the other hand, both diamond hones and ceramic whetstones are useful at times when it inconvenient to have to lubricate the whet stone prior to use.

But, regardless of which type of whet stone you choose, the real key to achieving a super sharp cutting edge is to maintain a consistent edge bevel angle throughout the entire sharpening process.

 

Benchmade 940 Osborne (S30V Steel) Pocket Knife Review

Over the years, Benchmade has become one of the biggest names in the world of knife manufacturing. This is a company that offers premium quality knives and uses state of the art technology to create knives that are built to really perform.

The Benchmade 940 Osborne is premium quality pocket knife with a reverse tanto blade.  It’s not only sleek and elegant, but also extremely durable.

This US manufactured knife is one of our favorites for EDC pocket carry with the only knock against it being the premium price tag.  The handle is ergonomically friendly, and the reverse tanto blade serves very well for both rugged wilderness tasks around the campfire, or cutting open boxes at your shop.

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The Benchmade story dates back to the end of the 1970s, which is when Les de Asis decided to create the perfect knife. Keen to create a product that used the latest materials and innovation, he teamed up with Victor Anselmo, and the first Benchmade knife was born. Since that time, Benchmade has gone on to become a huge name in this sector, dealing with customers around the globe.

This is a manufacturer that prides itself on the creation of innovative, high performing, solid knives fit for a variety of different purposes. From industrial and professional use through to recreational and personal use, you will find knives designed to cater for all needs. Today, this company continues to offer great quality and design with plenty of knife options to suit a range of requirements.

The Benchmade 940 Knife:

Benchmade 940 Rear End

The Benchmade 940 is one of the many popular knives made by Benchmade, and one of the best sellers in the pocket knife category.  This is a knife that combines versatility with robustness and durability. You will find yourself with a very high quality knife when you invest in the 940. It falls under the category of an Everyday Carry knife and offers high specifications as well as a range of features.

This knife has been available through Benchmade for many years and still enjoys huge popularity amongst those looking for a great quality everyday carry knife. The knife offers a high level of versatility, which makes it ideal for use in a range of different situations. It is also lightweight and easy to carry.

Benchmade 940 Specs & Details:

Benchmade 940 Spine
If you are looking for an everyday carry knife with high specifications and unique features, this could be the ideal choice for you. The designer of this knife model is Osborne and it comes in a manual opening style with an AXIS mechanism. The length of the blade is 3.40 inches and the overall length of the knife when it is open comes in at 7.87 inches. When the knife is closed, the overall length is 4.47 inches.

The weight, handle and blade materials can vary, as you have a choice available to you with this knife. The Osborne has aluminum handles, which has a CPM S30V steel blade and weighs in at 2.90 ounces.

The aluminum handles are 0.41 inches thick. The blade comes in a reverse tanto design, which is a design that is known for its sturdy tip.

Appearance of the Benchmade 940:

Benchmade 940 Another Angle

The Benchmade 940 knife is robust, versatile, and designed to perform superbly. It also boasts a very sleek, modern, and slim-line design. This is a very stylish knife, which adds to its appeal for many people. Overall, this knife has unique elegance and a stunning design. Although it is classed as an everyday carry knife, many find that it makes the perfect gentleman’s knife and is a great choice for a gift.

The Osborne has a very ergonomic design that has been created to ensure ease of use and comfort. You will benefit from superior grip with this knife, which helps to make day to day tasks far easier.

The knife comes with a standard Benchmade pocket clip, which is simple yet effective. The knife is lightweight and slim, which means that you can carry it around with ease. The thumb studs and AXIS mechanism on the knife will enable you to flick out the blade in next to no time and without any problems.

The Cost of the Benchmade 940:

Benchmade 940 Osborne in Hand

In terms of cost, the Benchmade 940 is not the cheapest everyday carry knife out there. However, when you compare the cost of the knife to the modern design, appearance, feature options, and overall quality, you will see that it does offer value for money.

The S30V steel is one of the most expensive knife steels that is used in manufacturing knives today, and that is often the reason for the higher price tag of this knife in comparison to other models.

Wrapping Up:

Benchmade 940 in Hand

In conclusion, the Benchmade 940 is a knife that many will consider the perfect everyday carry knife. It has something for everyone – great design, compact and lightweight, durability and power, versatility, ease of use and more. The fact that it has a number of options with regards to handle material, blade steel, and weight means that you can benefit from a knife that suits your personal needs.

When you opt for this product as your everyday carry knife or even a gentleman’s knife, you can rest assured that you have a product that is designed to both perform well and stand the test of time.

The Bark River Wolf River Hunting Knife Review

Bark River Knives is my new favorite knife company! Formerly known as Bark River Knife & Tool, BRK is a family owned company located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  BRK is run by veteran knife smith Mike Stewart who teaches and employs a number of skilled artisans that create some of the prettiest production knives on the market today.

The BRK Wolf River Hunting Knife is yet another fine example of Mike Stewart’s familiarity with ethnic knife designs. In fact, this knife is very reminiscent of the “Buffalo Skinner” knife designed in the 1840’s by American cutlery manufacturer John Russell, who was the owner of the Green River Knife Works.

However, the BRK Wolf River features an overall length of 8 ½” with a saber ground, bull-nosed blade that measures 4 ½” in length that is made from Crucible’s new CPM-S35VN stainless steel hardened to 58-60 Rockwell. In addition, this knife features the same ergonomic, tapered handle featured on the BRK Fox River Knife and is available with your choice of handle materials ranging from several different colors of micarta, to exotic hardwoods, to natural materials and the deluxe version features metal bolsters. Last, this knife is supplied with heavy-duty, leather, pouch-type sheath.

Now, those of you who have read my latest articles published on this web site are aware that I have recently been focusing on ethnic outdoor knife designs and the BRK Wolf River knife is an excellent, modern, rendition of the famous Green River Knife Works’ Buffalo Skinner knife that was so popular with nearly everyone heading west in the 1840’s.

Unlike other survival knives but similar to some hunting knives like the bowie , the Green River Knife is an ethnic American knife design and, although the  Buffalo Skinner  model was specifically designed for removing the hide from large game animals instead of performing camp chores like a parang or a bolo, it was plain and robustly built just like these two weapons as opposed to the fancy, lightweight, knives that were imported from Sheffield, England which was the main source for quality cutlery in America at the time.

Thus, the Green River Buffalo Skinner was in high demand by Americans who made their living as professional hunters. However, as a concession to modern ideals of what a proper skinning knife should look like, the blade on the Wolf River knife, at 4 ½”, is noticeably shorter than that featured on the original Green River “Buffalo Skinner” after which it is patterned.

However, since most modern day hunters are not used to working with 6” to 9” blades, the 4 ½” blade length on the BRK Wolf River is perfect by today’s standards. In addition, on this modern BRK rendition of this timeless, classic, knife design, the tip of the blade has been lowered a bit and the resulting to a long, curved, edge of this knife design is meant to match the natural, ergonomic, movement of the human arm in order to minimize fatigue when the knife is used for extended periods.

Also, the blade has a 1/8” wide spine and features a deep, saber grind and so it can be honed to a very sharp edge. The blade is also made from  Crucible’s new CPM-S35VN stainless super steel which consists of 1.4% carbon, 14% chromium, 3% vanadium, and 2% molybdenum. Consequently, due to its extremely high Carbon content along with its high chromium content, it is a very hard and highly corrosion-resistant stainless steel.

Plus, with the addition of 2% molybdenum which forms hard, double carbide, bonds with the chromium that helps improve both the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel and the addition of 3% vanadium to produce a fine grain structure in the steel, the blade of this knife will take and hold a very keen edge even after extended use; especially with a Rockwell Hardness of 58-60!

However, due to the lack of manganese or nickel in the steel, this is hard steel rather than tough steel and thus, this knife should not be used for chopping tasks when processing large game animals like when one separates the ribs from the spine because the edge of the blade may chip. In addition, the BRK Wolf River knife features a very ergonomic, tapered, handle that is pictured with black micarta handle slabs but is available with many different handle materials so that you can customize the knife to suite you.

Consequently, if you happen to like historic American knife designs, then the Bark River Knives Wolf River Hunting Knife should hold great appeal for you. Not only is it patterned after a famous American knife design that was nearly as popular as the Bowie Knife in its time (although for a different purpose), it is a well designed and meticulously constructed hunting knife that will likely outlast several different owners.

Bark River Knives Trail Buddy Review

It seems like every time I look at the Bark River Knives web site (formerly known as Bark River Knife & Tool), I discover yet another interesting and useful knife design. Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, BRK is a family owned business operated by veteran knifesmith Mike Stewart who employs a group of skilled bladesmiths to create some of the finest production knives on the market today.

Like the Bark River Wolf River the BRK Trail Buddy is another American knife design that was originally conceived by Gorge W. Brooks (who was the chief editor of “The Outer Book”) in 1914 and was produced by Webster Marble as his Woodcraft model.

The BRK Trailbuddy features an overall length of 8” with a 4 ¼” clip point blade with a deep sabre grind made from non-stainless A-2 tool steel hardened to 58 Rockwell. This knife also features an ergonomic, tapered handle which is available with your choice of handle materials ranging from several different colors of Micarta, to exotic hardwoods, to natural materials and the deluxe version features metal bolsters. Last, this knife is supplied with heavy-duty, leather, pouch-type sheath from Sharpshooter Sheath Systems.

Like some other pocket knives, this knife is based on the Marble’s “Woodcraft” design of the early 1900’s, the adjustments made to the design by Mike Stewart have greatly improved upfacon the original design in my opinion.

For instance, the point has been lowered to place it more in line with the center line of the blade which imparts a slight positive forward angle to the edge and lowers the belly of the blade for better leverage and control when removing the hide from harvested game animals.

In addition, the stick tang and stacked leather handle of the “Woodcraft” model have been replaced with a full tang and handle slabs made from your choice of numerous different man-made and natural materials. Thus, the  is a much stronger and far more ergonomic design than the Marbles Woodcraft knife is.

However, it is made from non-stainless A-2 tool steel which contains 0.95-1.05% carbon, 4.75%-5.5% chromium, 1.0% manganese, 0.90%-1.40% molybdenum, 0.30% nickel, and 0.15-0.50%vanadium and thus, the blade does require more care to keep it corrosion free than a blade made from a stainless steel.

The high carbon content, however, makes this a hard steel and the chromium and molybdenum combine to form hard double carbide bonds which help improve the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel. Also, the addition of both manganese and nickel increase both the strength and toughness of the steel and the addition of vanadium refines the grain structure so the blade can be honed to an extremely sharp edge.

Plus, with a Rockwell Hardness of 58, it will hold that edge through extensive use. In addition, the sabre grind on the blade of this knife differs from other knives and is so deep that it almost qualifies as a flat grind and the clipped point with the false edge gives this knife a very sharp point for piercing hides.

Furthermore, the choil allows the edge to be sharpened all of the way to the back and, when combined with the short ricasso, they form what passes for a small quillion. Furthermore, the full tang construction with the tapered handle slabs is a very ergonomic design; although I am not certain why if features two lanyard loops.

Thus, while the basic lines of the original Marble’s Woodcraft knife have been faithfully preserved in the BRK Trail Buddy, the BRK design has provided this classic knife design with a much needed overhaul. Consequently, the modern rendition of this popular classic is a compact, lightweight, fast handling, general purpose hunter/skinner that clearly reflects the purpose of the original design by G.W. Brooks.

The S.O.G. Aura Camp Knife Review

The story of SOG Knives‘ inception began in Vietnam, where members of a highly classified US special ops unit carried a unique combat knife into the jungle on covert missions. This special unit was known as MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group) and its existence was once wholeheartedly denied by the US Government!

In my opinion, the SOG Aura Camp Knife is one of their most interesting designs and it features an overall length of 11” and a 6” drop point blade with a hollow sabre grind made from 5/32” 7Cr13MoV stainless steel hardened to a Rockwell Hardness of 54-56.

In addition, this knife features an extremely ergonomic, 5”, glass reinforced nylon handle that has been overmolded with a soft, Zytel rubber and which contains a small removable carbide sharpener. Last, the knife is supplied with a ballistic nylon sheath with a Velcro closure.

According to S.O.G., the blade of the Aura Camp knife is based upon the original knife designed by Rezin Bowie for his brother Jim who made the original design quite famous by using to win a fight that took place on a sandbar in the Mississippi River near Natchez, Tennessee.

Also, I noticed that the S.O.G. website lists the shape of the blade on this knife as a clip point which would be in keeping with what we commonly consider the bowie knife design to look like – not like a traditional pocket knife.  When you examine the tip of the SOG Aura Camp Knife closely, you will clearly see that it is closer to a clip point than it is a drop point.

Regardless of the type of point the blade has, the entire knife is extremely well designed for use as a dedicated wilderness survival knife. For instance, the drop point creates a very strong tip and it places the tip of the knife closer to the center line of the blade for better control when using the tip for precision cutting tasks. Also, the hollow sabre grind creates a very sharp edge and the miniature ricasso allows the edge to be sharpened all of the way to the back for better leverage when sharpening stakes and cutting notches for traps and snares. In addition, the integral quillion prevents the user’s fingers from inadvertently sliding forward onto the edge of the blade.

Also, even when the shape and design of the handle require a partial tang rather than a full tang, the resulting ergonomics are well worth the sacrifice of some blade to tang strength. Consequently, the glass-reinforced nylon handle has been molded to be a very close fit with the human hand. The soft Zytel rubber coating gives the handle a very positive and very comfortable grip. Plus, the glass-reinforced nylon handle incorporates a small cavity where a small carbide sharpener for the blade is housed.

Last, although I have looked and looked online, I have been unable to find the composition of 7Cr13MoV stainless steel used on this knife, but according to the SOG. web site, it is the equivalent of 420 and 440A stainless steel and thus, it is a tough steel rather than a hard steel with moderately good edge retention and corrosion resistance. Consequently, it is perfect for the intended purpose of a camp knife/survival knife that will see hard use.

Therefore, in my opinion, the SOG Aura Camp Knife is a very well designed and well made knife that would serve the user well as a dedicated wilderness survival knife. Also, while the six inch blade may be a bit short for anything more than light chopping tasks, this blade design excels at smaller tasks such as carving and skinning. In addition, while you may need to use the integral carbide sharpener occasionally to retouch the edge, this steel is very unlikely to chip or break when put to hard use and thus, it is a good choice for its intended purpose.

The Entrek Elk Knife: A Full Analysis

Founded by internationally known knife maker Ray W. Ennis, Entrek USA is an American knife company that produces very high quality, semi-production knives.

Ray has been professionally designing and making knives since 1973. Although his present line mainly focuses on tactical knives, the company also includes several knives designed for wilderness survival, hunting, and general use. Entrek USA fulfils Ray Ennis’ vision of producing a custom quality knife at a production knife price.

The  is one of Entrek’s more interesting designs. It features an overall length of 11 7/8” with an 7” clip point, sabre grind blade made from 1/4″ 440C stainless steel that has been heat treated, sub-zero stabilized, and double drawn to 57-68 Rockwell. It has a bead blasted, non-reflective finish is applied.

In addition, the Entrek “Elk” features full tang construction with stainless steel quillions and black canvas Micarta handle slabs which Entrek purchases from only one source in order to maintain uniformity. Last, this knife is supplied with a Kydex sheath like many other fixed blade knives that includes either a belt loop or a belt clip and hollow rivets so that you can lash the knife to your gear.

In my opinion, the “Elk” is one of Entrek’s more fascinating designs because the blade shape tends to defy classification.

Although it is clearly a California clip point blade shape with a straight edge and a sabre grind, it is obviously heavily influenced by Persian style knife designs and thus, the slightly concave “clip” combined with the deep belly of the sweep tend to lend it the appearance of a trailing point.

Consequently, not only would this knife serve the user well as a wilderness survival knife, it would also perform well as either a hunting knife or a tactical knife; thus making it even more difficult to classify!

However, for the purpose of this article, I am going to view and asses it as a dedicated wilderness survival knife;  for this purpose, it is an excellent compromise between a knife like the Entrek Destroyer which has a Bolo/Kukri like blade length that measures 8 7/8” and is clearly designed for medium to heavy chopping tasks and a knife like the Entrek Javalina which has a drop point blade that measures 4 5/16” and is clearly designed for general purpose use.

Thus, while the blade is long enough and heavy enough to perform light chopping tasks and the sabre grind will prevent the knife from binding in the cut, it is obviously not a dedicated chopping tool.

However, it is an excellent design for the numerous other tasks that a user would normally require of it in a wilderness survival situation such as carving, cutting and slicing. Also, the 1/4” spine combined with the full tang construction make this a very sturdy knife so that it could safely be used to split saplings using a baton without fear of breaking it.

In addition, the clip point tip shape combined with the deep belly on the edge make this knife an excellent tool for removing the hide from harvested game animals and then processing the carcass into edible sized pieces.

Plus, being made from 440C which my favorite stainless steel for dedicated outdoor use because it contains enough carbon to hold an edge very well (.095% – 1.20%), enough chromium to be very corrosion resistant (16.0% – 18.0%), just enough molybdenum (0.75%) to combine with the chromium to form plenty of hard, double-carbide bonds which increases the hardness, toughness, wear resistance and abrasion resistance of the steel and just enough manganese (1.0%) to make the steel properly tough.

In addition, after shaping, each Entrek blade undergoes a rigorous regimen which consists of heat treating, then sub-zero quenching to relieve any internal stress in the metal which might cause a weak point, and then double drawing to a Rockwell hardness of 57-58.

Thus, the user is provided with a knife that strong, tough, corrosion resistant, holds an edge extremely well and will survive most any task the user may ask of it. However, I am not particularly enamored of the bead blasted finish.

While I would certainly prefer to have this type of finish on a knife that I intended to use for tactical purposes because it does not reflect light the way a polished surface can, it also tends to hold moisture against the surface of the metal unlike a polished surface and thus, I am concerned that it would be more prone to corrosion than a polished surface would be even though the steel contains 16.0% – 18.0% chromium.

Also, while I do appreciate the fact that the bolster/quillions are made from stainless steel instead of brass, I am not particularly enamored with quillions on a dedicated wilderness survival knife because the top quillion tends to prevent me from placing either my thumb or my index finger on the spine of the blade for greater leverage when cutting or carving and greater control when working with the tip of the blade.

On the other hand, I do like canvas Micarta for handle slabs because not only does it provide a positive griping surface, it is a very tough material that is impervious to chipping, cracking, or splitting and it will not absorb moisture the way some natural handle materials will.

Last, I greatly appreciate the fact the Ray Ennis chooses to purchase his Micarta from only one source in order to maintain both the quality and the uniformity. In fact, it is just such attention to detail that tends to set a custom made knife apart from production knives.

Consequently, the Entrek “Elk” is, in my opinion, a very well-designed and well-constructed knife that would actually serve several different purposes well but would excel as a dedicated wilderness survival knife. Last, I presently own an Entrek “Scout” which is no longer in production and, I have owned another model that is also no longer in production and I have to say that I am very impressed with both the quality and the craftsmanship of Entrek knives and thus, I have no qualms what so ever about recommending them.

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