Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The "Right" Knife

Stephen has asked a question in the comments section that I thought would do well to answer in a post. He wrote:

. . . what would you recommend for a good all around survival/fighting knife?
I currently use a Buck Hunter 110, which I absolutely love. I've dressed everything from fish to deer with it but it's perhaps not the best for fighting applications.

I used to sell knives, and although I do not fancy myself an expert, I think I have learned a few things that may be helpful. The first helpful thing I will mention is that in good knife design, form follows function.

An electrician's knife is perfect for stripping wires, and the fact that it has a screw driver where you usually find a point, makes it safer and more useful to the electrician. It certainly would not be my first choice, however, for butchering chickens.

Similarly, there are reasons that skinning knives have deep bellies and often a finger hole in the blade. Likewise, there are reasons that bread knives do not look like butcher knives, and vice versa.

Principle: The narrower the range of uses to which you put a knife, the more specialized will be its design.

Survival knives must often do jobs for which you'd normally use different kinds of knives, and in addition, they must also stand in for tools other than knives (e.g., camp axe, wedge, can opener, etc.) This requires compromises of design that result in a knife that can do a lot of things, but cannot do them all equally well.

A survival knife that will cut through brush as well as a machete will make an unwieldy (and dangerous) can opener. A survival knife that has the weight, configuration & edge to chop wood like a camp axe will probably make a mess of cleaning and filleting fish.

Therefore, a survival knife is always a compromise in terms of design and function.

(To be continued)

1 comment:

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Ooh, good subject. Thanks for making me think....

Have you heard about the knife legislation of late?