There is a surprising variety of survival and hunting knife types on the market today. Each is designed for a specific purpose. If you are an outdoor enthusiast it is especially important to own a hunting or survival knife; they are also popular among knife collectors. Whether you are a knife enthusiast or collector, or use the knives for hunting, camping, or other outdoor activities, it can be helpful to learn about the design and purpose of each knife type.
There are hunting and survival knives in both fixed and folding blade styles. Fixed blade knives require more space when carrying them, and this can be important if you’re traveling in the wilderness. However, they are generally sturdier than folding knives. On the other hand, folding knives are more compact, making them easier to carry with you. Bigger is not always better with hunting knives. A 3-5 inch blade is about what you will need for most applications, though hunting and survival knives are also made in much larger sizes.
When choosing the blade finish, there are many choices, including black, stainless steel, and powder coated. The black coating on a blade will eventually wear off, especially if the knife is used frequently, but it can keep down glare, which can be helpful in hunting or survival applications. Powder coated blades and stainless steel will help keep the blade from rusting. A high quality blade that is specifically designed for hunting or outdoor use should be able to withstand frequent use without chipping, cracking, or rusting.
Besides the blade type, you’ll also want to choose a handle. If your knife will be used in inclement weather, a rubberized handle can help you maintain your grip. If your hunting or survival knife will be more of a collectible, other choices such as bone, horn, or exotic wood are available. Many high-quality hunting knives are made using one solid piece of steel for the blade and the handle; this can ensure that the joint between the blade and the handle does not break when the knife is put to the test. Other hunting and survival knives have hollow handles for carrying emergency supplies.
Most hunting and survival knives can be distinguished from each other by the blade shape. Choosing the right blade shape is important because an outdoor knife must be able to stand up to typical activities like stabbing, hacking, and slicing. A drop point blade is very popular because it is so versatile. This blade style has a sharp curve. It is useful for almost any task, and is known to stand up to plenty of abuse without cracking or chipping. The alternative to a drop point blade is generally a Bowie knife. These are often preferred by hunters, although they are not as versatile for camp chores or skinning as a drop point blade.
Clip point blades, made of thinner steel, are known for having a very sharp point. Not as versatile as a drop point or Bowie style blade, they are a bit more fragile. If you try to pry anything with the sharp point, it may break off. Skinning blades are more specialized blades, designed for skinning animals. These are usually used in addition to a general-purpose hunting knife.
Survival blades usually have serrated edges, which are ideal for cutting through tough materials, like bone or wood. Although a straight edge is easier to sharpen quickly, serrated edges are quite useful, and can still be sharpened with practice. Hunting blades may also have gut hooks, which are special features for gutting kills quickly. These hooks are located on the end of the knife blade, on the opposite side as the cutting edge.
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