> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Survival Knife question for the tribe



Survival Knife question for the tribe

Wanted to pick the collective brain of the T-Blog Tribe with a quick questions.

I'm getting rolling on planning an ebook version of the Preparing on $40 a Week series--expanded entries, more detail, some budget friendly DIY projects and a other few additions. There are a few entries that I plan to revisit, and one of those is the entry on the $40 Survival Knife.

My recommendation was a Mora Bushcraft Triflex, which is an excellent knife in many ways. It's awesomely sharp, excellent slicer, whittler and carver, easily resharpened, with a comfortable grip and serviceable sheath. It does, admittedly lack some durability - the thinner blade steel and partial length tang mean that it won't stand up to some of the abuse that a more ruggedly built knife might. Don't get me wrong - it will stand up to some hard use, and Moras have long been a favorite among survival instructors because, well, they just plain work.

That all said, I wanted to take a look at some of the other solid knives in the $40 price range, to see if I can better hone in on an ideal choice given the budget. The Mora Bushcraft may win in the end, but another knife might, too.

I'm planning on picking up 3 knives for the showdown, currently they are:

I've had/messed with a Bushman in the past, and generally like it, aside from a quasi crappy sheath and a bit too large. I have zero experience with the other two, but both look quite promising. The Bushlore is probably the most similar comparison to the Mora, the other two veer into bigger/chopper turf, which is fine by me.

Am I missing an obvious candidate? Is there another knife that needs to be considered? Let me know!


  1. What about the Buck 119. Easy to sharpen, full tang. Plus you can pick it up at the local Wally World for a good price.

    1. Rat tail in handle makes it inherently weak when batonning.

  2. The most obvious candidate you're missing is the ever standard k-bar. Sure it may be a bit bulky but it's a beast in everything it does. You can gut a fish, skin a deer, whittle with it though not as fine as a smaller blade.

    It chops wood, it builds shelters and most of all it's a great last resort defensive weapon. Anyone that doesn't own a k-bar should really consider why they don't.

    It fits your 40 dollar rule as you can find new ones for that price by looking around and you can find surplus ones for even cheaper.

  3. I was going to suggest the SCHF9, but it looks like you are already there. I might suggest something like the Ka-Bar heavy bowie, cutlas machete, grass machete, or kuktri machete. I reviewed their Kukri Machete and was impressed. Granted it was more like $50, not $40 so that might put it out of the running, but it's a solid tool. The Condor Barong might be a good choice - haven't bought one yet but I have heard good things and want to add one to the collection soon. Good luck with the e-book!

  4. Ka-Bars run in the $50-$60 range. If you can find me a source that has good condition surplus Ka-Bars on the interwebs, it might be in the running. And the larger machete styles would be a secondary/supplemental "chopper."

    1. Ebay is where I got my k-bar USMC for 30 bucks. Granted you can't always get them immediately but I see this knife for a great price and a very nice one at that: http://goo.gl/hzYhT

      I'm of the likes that I don't want pretty new looking stuff. When I have it I beat the hell out of it by using it.

    2. Recurved BoomstickNovember 14, 2012

      I'd lke to add a quick note: the Kabar machetes (kukri, grass, and cutlass) are a little softer (~Rc 52), and dull quicker than their American 1095cv counterparts. Still great tools (I own all 3), but they'll need a bit more TLC with the stone.

  5. Of the three I would choose the SCHF-9, I have a great Kabar but I don't use it regularly. What I do use on a regular basis and I find a great value is my Gerber Profile. I picked it up at Wal-Mart last year for about $20 and have been very pleased with its performance, I believe it is available on amazon for $17.95

  6. For $40 and under, I'm going with the SOG Jungle Primative (http://amzn.to/ZFTDRc). It'll chop, baton, saw, and make fine cuts if you hone the belly near the edge. It's full tang with a nasty serrated pommel. It comes with a decent nylon sheath. In my opinion, the only major drawback is that it's 420 stainless.

    I think the versatility and functionality outweigh the drawback of steel quality. My survival philosophy dictates that long-term survivability is a function of solving major problems quickly. This knife will allow a survivor to process firewood and construct a shelter quickly and easily, thus conserving calories for more mentally and physically demanding tasks such as hunting. I'd rather be set up quickly and risk an early end of the knife's service life than expend much more energy using a less functional tool that will long outlive me.

  7. SOG fx21-n knife/saw would be a solid performer.

    SOG s22n multitool to cover as many bases as possible.

    I'd prefer maybe a DIY knife solution with a fasthawk for chopping. That would be my druthers if there was a budget constraint. Depends on the surroundings as well. If you're in bramble country, I'd want a machete instead of a hawk.

  8. From a different perspective, and coming from someone who has not actually used any of these, but has been around knives all their (albeit fairly short) life, I think I'd rather have two or three of the mora's for the price of one of the others. I tend to be horrible at destroying knives, whether cheap folders or expensive full tang fixed blade knives, rarely have I had a knife last more than a year without having to do major repairs. And, if you had multiple moras in different spots, say one on your belt, another around your ankle and a third in your bag,(3 can easily be purchased under the $40 cap), the chances of you being without on drop dramatically. Now, I must concede that this does come from someone who is new at prepping, but if Two is One, and One is None, what's Three?

  9. Alex,
    I haven't used the Condor but I've heard good things about it. I would probably stick with the Mora's for the "bang for the buck". But I think the Mora 2000 would probably be the better option. It comes in at $32 on Amazon. Its has a more robust stainless blade instead of the carbon steel of the Triflex. It retains a sharp edge fairly well.

  10. My opinion, and worth exactly what you paid for it ;) :

    If I had to stick to just 40 bucks (or real close), my pick(s) would be a Mora, or a Mora Sloyd (shorter for fine work ~$18), a Cold Steel Canadian Belt Knife (~$14), a great design for 90% of what you might ever need to do outdoors, and an Old Hickory 8-inch Butcher knife (~$9). The OH Butcher is pretty much the low-rent, easier to use replacement for the Bushman (which I do still like).

    The "or real close" is because you'll have to obtain or build a sheath for the Butcher. It might sound like an odd choice, but it was the 'pioneer/frontiersman/settler' blade of choice for a couple hundred years. The great-grandparents probably knew something.

    1. A sample of my 40 buck outdoor belt kit - The Mora Sloyd is about 15 years old. I usually carry a 40+ year old Herter's Canadian Belt knife instead (same pattern, but the Cold Steel shown ain't half bad, even if stainless). Hilt-wrappings are added to make them less-slippery/more comfortable. Knock down the back edge of the Butcher knife with a file and emery cloth for a pinch grip and it makes a pretty decent chef's knife, as well.


      Add the "other classes" machete and axe choppers, and you're pretty well covered for most cutting tasks.


  11. Smith & Wesson Search & Rescue Fixed Blade Blade length: 5.88"

    • Overall length: 10.5"

    • Blade thickness: 3/16"

    • Clip point with blood line

    • Handle material: Rubberized aluminum

    • Finish: Black powder coated

    • Steel type: 440C stainless

    • Sheath: Black Nylon

    for 35 dollers i have never had a better knife i have one on all of my pscks and use them on a normal bases greqt knife

  12. USAF Survival Knife?

  13. Just curious as to what the opinions are on the Glock brand of knives.

    1. Ugly Rooster
      Great for stabbing, batoning, digging and prying. Maybe choping. Forget any fine work though. Metal is soft for abuse. Takes an edge well, lost quickly if too ' sharp '

      I put up for consideration the Schrade, Old Timer-SHARP FINGER. Ebay about $20. Incredible contender possibility assuming you have that larger piece discussed in the series. It is not a chopper. But if you have that, the SF will serve very well and it has a thick spine for medium strength.
      And to tell you what that means, I build knives and can afford what I would want... The SF is my every day carry knife.

    2. I've never messed with the Glock knives, but have heard good things about them as a "beater" knife.

    3. Oooh! Glock Field Knife. Forgot about that one.

    4. Thanks for the info. I like my Glock knife, but admittedly, I haven't even come close to putting it through the paces that are described in this post.
      Rooster, since you build knives, what do you recommend for sharpening? Kits, procedure, etc... ?

      Okay, here we go, a sharpening primer. This is my experience only, my opinion. Others who are qualified in the field can offer other equally valid routes, as well. But I promise that THIS works...
      EQUIPMENT (forget about flat stones, for the fine work):
      Sharpening rod (coarse metal-think what is found in a kitchen knife block)
      Sharpening rod (finer metal-same as above, feel for difference with your finger)
      Sharpening rod (Fine and SMOOTH ceramic rod, same configuration as above)
      Wet and Soapy Towel (for keeping rods clean!)

      GRIND OUT a small triangle where the blade edge thickens near the hand guard. Most blades already have this done. Nearly ALL blade configurations benefit from this modification. The reason many blades lack it is reduced cost in production... Blasphemy. Having this prevents the edge from sweeping off your sharpening surface.

      HOW TO:
      You are on your own regarding the FEEL and how to do it; that can't be conveyed in person very easily, much less with a smart phone. But here are some tips...
      Excess pressure is bad with round rods, you will chip the edge.
      Smooth and consistent movement, angle and pressure.
      Don't stop in middle of stroke.
      Start at back of blade, top of rod, drag to you and down the rod, pulling to knife tip.
      Keep your hand below the handle because you are bringing an edge to your hand.
      Start coarse and progress to fine, duh...
      Initially, you are pulling up and creating a burr edge.
      Next, you are training it left, then training it to the right.
      Next you are breaking off, polishing off that burr edge.
      Or leave it for more coarse edge.
      Whatever burr edge is remaining should be trained to the side of your greatest use...
      Assume you are looking over the blade, tip away from you...
      Spine of blade is up...
      Right handed user wants burr edge facing or bent toward the driver side
      Lefties like me want it toward the passenger side.
      To determine which way the burr is laying, with blade edge UP, run your naked thumb lightly across the edge... ACROSS! Not in line with, or you will bleed.
      Your thumb will give you adequate feedback about the burr edge.
      If the catching persists, you may need to go back to a rougher rod or stone to reestablish the edge.

    6. Thanks for all that info!

  14. Remember guys, I have a separate entry in the series for large choppers...this knife would be for bush craft, skinning and utility work. A giant knife becomes a liability for those tasks.

  15. Recurved BoomstickNovember 14, 2012

    Oh, in that case I'd like to throw in the mix the Kabar BK-11 or BK-14. I think the Moras out bushcraft it (hard to beat those ergos), but I think they are still a viable option for small knife.

  16. The Mora bushcrafter comes with a firesteel, which would save you money on purchasing it later.

    1. Ya, I think those were JUST coming out when I wrote the entry.

  17. when i can only pick one small knife it will be the paklite skinner from buck. i have the 140 ver. the newer 141 has just a bit longer blade.
    its lite and strong and is easy to clean. buck made this knife for skinning game in the field.
    it comes in at $25, theres even a combo pack of the knife and gut hook for $37 range.

  18. i went to sportsman's warehouse and asked the guy at the knife counter what were the best all-around do anything knives he suggested i look at. he gave me 3: the ka-bar USMC fighting knife ($50), buck woodsman ($40) and knives of alaska bush camp knife ($90).

    i did just get the schrade you're going to test. hadn't had a chance to use it yet. other than the sheath i love the knive as a large survival/chopping type knife. but if i could only have 1 knife it would likely NOT be the one. it's heavy and you would have to have a smaller knife available for more detail oriented work. if i could only carry 1 knife with me it would be something along the size/weight of a gerber prodigy.

    1. I do agree that the Schrade (and also probably the Bushman) are a bit too big for a single purpose knife. I need to track down more 4"-5" knives for the mix. I'll check out the Prodigy.

      I've also handled the Gerber Gator a couple years back...decent knife, crummy steel if I remember right.

    2. I can't speak from a technical standpoint, but from my experience with gerber knives, this tends to be a theme. Decent design and whatnot, but sub par materials. I ruined the pliers on a gerber crucial just by trying to tighten a loose bolt on a sign at work. I'm not a big guy or anything, but I've a decent grip but when I squeezed to pliers down, I ended up bending to gripping arms apart and now the won't shut right.

    3. i don't disagree with the complaint about the steel but it all depends on what kind of use you expect.

      for camping i have a gerber profile and love it. seems like it will stand up to a lot more abuse than i'll ever put it through. but as far as batoning maybe only the LMF II seems like it would stand up well. and i have a diamond sharpener which seems to work well enough to keep a sharp edge on any of the knives.

      but like i said it all depends on what you expect it to do. i have confidence that my schrade can handle just about anything. but i don't want to drag it around most of the time.

      i live in the city and batoning is not something i expect to do a lot of.

  19. Check out the Gerber Big Rock, good mid-size, nice point and belly on it, Razor sharp out of the box and easy to keep that way, thick enough to baton with but nibble enough to whittle, skin etc.....crappy sheath but hey, I always make my own sheaths anyway. Feels great invthe hand, very ergonomic. They are.discontinued right now, you can pick one up for $25 bucks and under....I know alot of people hate Gerbers but I personally have never had a problem with them....some of the sharpest, longest lasting knives I've owned...and I have owned alot of knives!