A perennial favorite with readers is this list of great gifts for prepared (and not so prepared) people. Here are some suggestions for knives.
by Leon Pantenburg
Disclaimer: Some of the companies mentioned in this post are SurvivalCommonSense.com sponsors. Before any advertising was accepted, every product was tested and reviewed.
Read SurvivalCommonSense.com and it won’t take long to figure out the author (me) is a cutlery enthusiast (OK. Fanatic). IMHO, your knife is the most important survival tool you can have, and judging from reader response, many of you agree.
2014 has been a great year for knife reviews, and I have checked out several brands and models. So how do I determine which knives to test?
Well, frequently a reader will ask about specific brands and models. If there is enough interest, I’ll check it out.
Then, how do I go about testing a blade?
Well, it starts with what the knife was designed for. A survival or bushcraft knife, naturally, should be able to handle most of the tasks associated with those disciples. Conversely, the keychain Swiss Army Knife Classic would have to be held to different standards.
I use knives to test them. All start out in the kitchen, with everyday cutting, dicing and slicing. If you can’t use a knife comfortably at home, you probably don’t want to take it out in the woods. I typically carry a knife for a few weeks and use it as much as possible. The knife also goes on whatever outing happens to come up.
Then, if the steel is new to me, I may deliberately dull the blade to see how hard it is to restore the edge.
Design features I don’t like, like short handles or unusual point designs, may not work for me but might be perfect for you. If I notice something like that I’ll let you know.
Often times, I’ll farm out a knife to a Boy Scout, friend or one of my kids. The only instructions that go along with the knife are to “use, not abuse” it. This feedback is taken into consideration in the final review.
Finally, I won’t help sell any product I wouldn’t use myself, or help promote a disreputable company.
So here we go – You can depend on these knives, and the companies that make them.
I bought and tested my first Bark River knife before entering into an promotional relationship with KnivesShipFree.com. Since last year, I have tested several different Bark Rivers, and all of them perform very well. Your problem will be choosing one!
Bark River Knives® are made in Escanoba, Michigan. All Bark River Knives have a strict no-questions-asked, lifetime warranty, and come with a nice sheath. Here are the ones I wrung out last year:
Fox River: My first BR, I love the design and really tried to like the handle. But I have large hands, and any handle shorter than about four inches doesn’t work for me. I sent it back, and Bark River traded me an Aurora.
Aurora: The Aurora is BR President Mike Stewart’s favorite bushcraft knife. If you could only have one BR, this might be it.
Sahara Hunter: I just plain like the looks of this knife, and it is proving to be a really useful size and design for me.
Kalahari Hunter: I got a prototype of this one, and I like it very much. The Kalahari is still being tested, and it and a Sportsman will be going on a Thanksgiving Mississippi deer hunt. It is clearly designed by a successful big game hunter.
Sportsman: Another prototype when I got it, this would a great choice for a fisherperson or someone who processes big game animal carcasses.
Canadian: For an overall, everyday carry belt knife, this design would be my choice. The Canadian went on a couple of fishing trips this summer, and worked well for a variety of camp tasks, including cleaning fish.
Liten Bror: If you like the Mora-style knives, you’ll love a Liten Bror.
Bushcrafter: I turned this knife over to the tender mercies of a bunch of Boy Scouts learning how to make survival fires. It endured all sorts of torture without a problem and was still sharp at the end of a long afternoon of whittling, batonning and carving firewood.
Bird and Trout: Designed as a knife for field dressing upland game and fish, this knife is incredibly handy for those tasks. It also works superbly as a kitchen knife.
W.T. Wright Knives® are handmade in Wintersville, Ohio. Their warranty is unconditional.
The Patriot: This small knife is designed for everyday carry, and I predict it will be very popular.
Genesis: Based on the famed Kephart pattern, the Genesis is a solid bushcraft knife. This is on my short list of do-it-all knives.
Benchmade® Knives are made in Portland, Oregon.
Griptillian: This knife was tested by my kids. My daughter, who works part-time in a trendy boutique, uses her Mini-Griptillain every day for opening boxes and other retail tasks. My son Dan, a musician, uses his Griptillian for stage setups.
The steel holds an edge extremely well, and this folder is recommended by several search and rescue teams.
Fallkniven®: This is a family-owned company in Sweden. All Fällkniven knives are quality-tested at Lulea University of Technology. Fallkniven claims they are “the strongest serial-manufactured, stainless-steel knives in the world.”
The F1 is the official survival knife of the Swedish Air Force. ‘Nuff said.
ESEE®: No frills on these knives – the ESEE company makes solid, no-nonsense tools. They’re designed to be used as hunting knives, survival knives, camping knives, tactical knives or any way you might need to use it.
ESEE-3 A common question goes something like this: “Expensive, pretty knives are wonderful – but I want a plain survival tool. What is a reasonably-priced, reliable rigid blade?” Well, check out this one.
Hesse Knifeworks®: Hess Knifeworks was established in 2005 By Don and Andy Hess after many years of working for other knife companies. Their stated goal is to produce high quality “Made in the USA” bench made custom knives.
The Whitetail proves quality knives don’t have to be exorbitantly priced. This is a good choice for an upland game, all-around knife.
Obviously, there are many fine new knives on the market, and I can’t check all of them out. But the ones mentioned here are good investments and you can rely on them.
Have fun shopping!
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