Choosing the best survival knife isn’t as simple as going to the hunting section of a big box store and picking up an impressive looking blade. If you do that you’re likely to be disappointed at the time you need that knife the most. The operative word here is “survival”—the best knives are durable, well crafted and a blade that’s the right type for the job at hand. There are three types of knives; the fixed blade, the folding blade and the popular multi-tool knife. The best pocket knife, as you’ll discover, isn’t necessarily the one with the most gadgets.
A folding knife is generally the best pocket knife and they come in many different styles and sizes. They are generally lightweight, compact and easy to carry. You’ll find folding knives in a vast array of price ranges but remember that you get what you pay for. Cheaper folding knives are great for opening packages or cutting string but as survival tools they be disastrous. The cheaper ones quickly lose their edge and are very difficult to sharpen. If used too frequently the blade will become dislodged and fall off while heavy practical use can break a poorly made blade.
There are two types of folding knives, the penknife, and the jackknife. A pen knife is not the best pocket knife for survival purposes but can come in handy for light jobs. It has 2-3 blades, one a bit larger than the others. It’s a jackknife that you want if you’ll be using it on a daily basis for fairly heavy-duty work and it can even be used for self-defense. It’s important that you get the best steel possible; grade 420HC steel is rust-resistant, strong and easily sharpened.
When choosing a pocket knife you should get one with a blade lock so it won’t fold when you’re using it. A-frame or button lock is the best. A-frame lock is part of the frame and usually tightens the lock as you put pressure on it. A button is a small button at the top of the handle that you have to push to release the blade. Get a comfortable handle that fits easily in your grip; metal is more damage resistant but rubber is easier to hold. A secure grip is important so that it doesn’t slip out of your hand and ruin the work you’re doing or injure you.
Another consideration in choosing the best survival knife in a pocket model is how easily you can open it. If you need to get it open quickly, how long will it take? Will you always have two hands to open it? Some have a hole in the blade for one-handed opening or thumb studs to assist in the same. Some have a spring system to open the knife once you give it a start; these are not switchblades but completely legal assistance systems. Of course, a lanyard hole will be a handy feature if you can’t keep it in your pocket or if you don’t have a pocket handy.
The best survival knife is not necessarily the biggest but the most useful. Finding the best pocket knife is one of the most important aspects of comfortable living in emergency situations.