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Wilderness Survival Knives: Tips for Choosing and Using

Wilderness Survival Knives: Tips for Choosing and Using

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Wilderness Survival Knives: Tips for Choosing and Using

118 pages
1 heure
Oct 4, 2016


The term "survival knife" can have many meanings, but they all lead to one question: do you have the tool you need to save your life in a wilderness survival situation? 

What makes a good wilderness knife? What makes a poor one? These subjects, as well as exercises to improve knife skills and avoid accidents, are shown through numerous color photos and drawings. 

Award-winning author Clint Hollingsworth of the Mac Crow wilderness thriller series is an avid, experienced outdoorsman, survival student and martial artist who has devoted much of his time to the study of wilderness knives.

Oct 4, 2016

À propos de l'auteur

Clint Hollingsworth has spent a good deal of his time in the woods since he was a child. He developed a certain sensitivity to the happenings around him out there, but in 1990, he became a student of the Tom Brown Jr Tracker School learning wilderness survival and tracking. This led him to more advanced training from Naturalist Jon Young in tracking and awareness, skills which have saved his life in the far back country. He began his serious martial arts training in 1980 with Sensei Steve Olfs and has been trained by Sensei's Michael Dascenzo, Sensei Scott Schweitzer, Sensei Kevin Ingalls and Shihan John Roseberry. He holds a 4th degree black belt in Sho Rei Shobu Kan Okinawan Goju Ryu. Clint is the author of the long running post-apocalyptic webcomic (and its attending books) The Wandering Ones at wanderingones.com with over 20,000 readers across the world. He is in the woods whenever possible.

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Aperçu du livre

Wilderness Survival Knives - Clint Hollingsworth



The Hows and the Whys


A few decades ago, the term survival knife was only used for military knives, such as the Jet Pilot Survival Knife (see bottom knife in above photo) that Air Force pilots carried in case they set down somewhere and found themselves either living off the land or escaping the enemy.

Since the eighties, and the movie First Blood, the term survival knife has become associated with most large knives usually of the Bowie Knife pedigree. Survival knives also encompass a lot of different gimmicky knives, everything from credit card sized multi-edge oddities, to semi-machetes (oh heck, even some machetes) They will often include semi-useless saw teeth (see photo above, center knife, Buck #185) for exiting a downed aircraft. Most of these saws actually don’t cut wood worth a dang and I don’t know about you, but it’s a rare occasion when I’m cutting my way out of an aircraft. Your mileage may vary.

Also included are tiny compasses, placed in the butt caps of hollow handle knives, and most of those compasses (particularly in metal handle knives) quit functioning after a only few years, if they didn’t break first.

Old timer woodsmen will scoff at the idea of a big knife all together. They prefer to use an axe for almost everything heavy duty, and they certainly have a point. The longer axe handle gives a force multiplier that the big knife cannot, and if you’re trying to take down a medium sized tree, the axe will finish the job LONG before a big knife. If you’ve been using axes all your life, your expertise will probably make this tool your first choice, and rightly so. And if you haven’t mastered the axe, there’s always the chance you will injure yourself severely.

One question I have is; how often do you take an axe on a day hike?

Backpackers will hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian Trail with only a tiny Swiss Army knife that has little more than an itty bitty blade, a small file and micro-scissors (Swiss Army Classic model). Why, they ask, would you need anything more? I can think of several reasons, but we’ll come back to that later.

In fairness, hiking over 2,000 miles is a monumental feat. But most PCT hikers are never more than two weeks from re-supply, and a full backpack shields you from having to have advanced bushcraft/survival skills, other than knowing how to use your modern equipment well and how to open food packages. As long as nothing ever happens to your backpack lifeline, this works. (Unless it doesn’t, hence the term ‘survival situation.’)

Both of these theories regarding what is needed in the woods are valid, to a point. So again the question; why a survival knife?

I’ve been out back of beyond by myself on innumerable occasions, and any time I’ve been without the equipment I needed, I made that equipment from what nature provided. In almost every case, I made it with a knife. The survival knife is a compromise. It’s of use to those of us who cover ground, and don’t necessarily have permanent camps where an axe might be used. It’s carried by those who want something that won’t fail like a tiny knife if things get tense.

Many of my own outings are roaming day hikes. I’m out for the day, I want to move around, see interesting things, think some thoughts. Usually I’m carrying a shoulder bag or on occasion a small daypack. I am highly unlikely to carry even a medium sized hatchet, much less an axe. As I have had a pretty fair amount of survival training, I also know that a tiny pen knife is not going to be that useful for anything other than minor gear repairs.

The primary function of a survival knife, big or small, is to help process man’s most ancient ally, wood. Right after that comes acquiring and processing food. Carving tools, processing game, fire making, utensils and traps are the sorts of activities that knives have been used for since we were in bearskins.

When an axe is too big, and a Swiss Army Knife is too small, a solid fixed-blade knife fills the niche.


What to look for

What to look for in a survival knife

The name Survival Knife has become equated with huge knives, usually of the Rambo variety, with long blades, saw backs and hollow handles. The thing is, most serious outdoorsman lost interest in this form of knife not too long after they started taking them to the woods. One of the main reasons for this was that the tang, the part of the blade that goes into the handle, should go the whole length of the handle (or most of it). However, the tang on the Rambo knives went in approximately an inch and a half to make room for the hollow compartment in the handle of the knife. Most of the mass-produced commercial versions did not make as great an effort to secure the blade to the grip as they should have.

Consequently, more than a few outdoorsmen found themselves holding a handle in one hand while looking perplexedly at the blade of their knife, stuck in the stump they had been batoning the knife through. Or to put it another way, their single-piece expensive fixed-blade knife was now a two piece. Ouch.

You’d probably think that I am whole-heartedly against hollow handle knives then, right? Not necessarily. Of the two knives above, (the top is a copy of the Jimmy Lile designed First Blood knife that started it all, a derivative of the Randall Knives Model 18) I would be more likely to use the smaller knife, because I am not going to be chopping or batoning with it. It will simply be used for cutting and carving. A knife with a short blade and a hollow handle will probably outlast a big chopper with a hollow handle. I’m not against big blades, but they should be on the end of a full tang handle. As for saw-backs, we’ll get back to that later.

There are, however, some hollow handle knives that an outdoorsman could rely on.

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