Disclaimer: I have extensively tested these knives in order to review them. The knives mentioned in this post are also offered for sale as a link at the bottom of the page for your convenience. I don’t recommend any product I haven’t tested or wouldn’t personally use.
By Leon Pantenburg
People interested in prepping or survival should view equipment purchases as investments. It is irresponsible to blow your budget on stuff that isn’t going to work for you.
But Christmas is coming, and maybe you want to give a cutlery gift that will be useful and used. There is endless debate about the best knife for this or that. So what is the best Christmas gift for a prepper/survivalist who needs a knife?
Start by thinking about what the person actually needs in a knife. Here are some of my requirements: It must be practical and easy to carry. The blade has to hold an edge and be easy to sharpen. The handle should fit your hand well.
Most importantly, the knife should fit the job. Obviously, you probably shouldn’t carry a Rambo knife while wearing a coat and tie, but on the other hand, a tiny Swiss Army knife on a key ring is not much use for batoning firewood or field dressing a deer.
My knife choices are based on years of use, and my own preferences. Here’s five favorites I use on a regular basis.
Swiss Army Classic: Calling a Classic a survival knife is quite a stretch, and I’d never carry that knife as my only survival tool. But it doesn’t matter where I am, or what I’m doing, if it is legal, I have a Classic with me.
The tiny knife has a variety of tools you will need, but that the expensive survival knives usually won’t have. In and of itself, the Classic is an inadequate survival knife. But combined with a larger knife, the Classic will prove to be worth its weight in gold.
Swiss Army Tinker: The Tinker is the other knife I carry every day. I sometimes carry a 998 Puma Bird Hunter, as the mood strikes me, but the Tinker is a more useful, no-frills bare-bones knife with tools you will actually use.
With a Phillips head screwdriver (which I use frequently) instead of a cork screw (which I don’t), the knife has useful parts. It is also narrow enough to carry comfortably in your pocket, but not so bulky as to be obtrusive. It has the tools you need, with none of the add-ons that won’t be used.
The two blades are the right size for a lot of cutting work, from skinning a rabbit or peeling an apple to whittling a wiener stick. Two of the most useful accessories that every Swiss Army knife has are the tweezers and toothpick. The plastic toothpick saves having to carve one out of a stick. The tweezers are the best in the world, and I have used them countless times to remove splinters.
Mora: Currently, the rage among some survival schools is the Mora, a small, inexpensive Scandinavian-style sheath knife with a four-inch blade and a large, easy-to-hold handle.
Personally, I think they’re great, and I generally have a Mora close at hand. (I even carry one in my briefcase. I use it at the office to open mail, and the Mora is constantly being borrowed to slice bagels, cut up pizza or spread cream cheese.)
I bought my first Mora knife several years ago. While I will never give up my folders, I was looking for a small, inexpensive sheath knife that could be recommended to Boy Scouts.
This knife had to be an all-around, do-everything tool. It would be used for a variety of tasks, which could include whittling, cleaning fish and small game, meat-cutting and peeling potatoes. It needed to be lightweight and small enough to be carried conveniently.
The fact is, a folder can be dangerous in inexperienced hands, and leave it to a kid to fold one shut on his fingers. This has happened before, so I generally start out a youngster with a fixed blade knife.
Forshner boning knife: One of the most-used knives in my kitchen is a six-inch Forshner. The handle fits my hand well, and the blade is well-designed and easy to sharpen.
That same boning knife is also the one of my most-used tools when it comes to deer and elk hunting. I carry a Forshner and a skinning/gutting knife in my daypack and these tools have proven to be all you need to process a big game animal.
Every year after a successful hunt, my hunting buddies and I have a butchering party, where we cut and wrap meat. The cutting implements that do 80 to 90 percent of the work are Forshner boning knives.
Cold Steel SRK: The initials stand for Search and Rescue Knife, but I bought it because I was looking for a do-everything knife for the backcountry.
For what I need, specifically, a survival tool that can double as a backcountry big game hunting knife, the SRK is perfect. My SRK has field dressed well over 50 deer and been used on several elk. In one instance, the knife was used to field dress and quarter three deer without it needing sharpening. The handle never gets too slick to hold safely, no matter how messy the field dressing job gets.