What Is the Best Material for a Survival Knife?
Survival knives hold their name due to a fact that they can help you survive even the hardest and most cruel conditions. They are multi-purpose tools that can be used for all types of outdoor activities on all terrains and under all weather conditions. Whether it is just going fishing or camping that requires true surviving skills, your survival knife will be a tool you cannot do without.
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Types of Knives
There are two basic types of knives: folding-blade and fixed blade knives. Folding-blade knives, as their name says it, have blades that can be folded into a handle thus take up less space than fixed blade ones. That can be practical if you are not looking for a very strong knife that can perform heavy tasks. They can be packed into a backpack or be carried in your pocket and are safe to handle when folded. But they are not practical when true survival tool is needed, as a joint that folds the blade is their week point. Fixed blade knives are much stronger, can perform even the hardest tasks and even they hold more space and are not practical for carrying in trousers’ pockets, they are irreplaceable for people that are spending time in the wild. They are used for hunting, to build a shelter from material that can be found in nature, to chop some finely wood for the fire, to produce sparkle to light a fire, to open food cans, to cut the rope, food preparation and so much more. For this, you need a strong, durable knife you can depend on. For most outdoor activities, fixed blade knives are a better choice.
Types of Blade Materials
Basically, three types of material can be used for making a good survival knife: stainless steel, carbon steel, and tool steel. Depending on the material they were made of, survival knives have different characteristics. We will elaborate on their individual characteristics and compare them to each other a bit later, but for now, it is important to know that all these materials make good and dependable blades. Throughout human history, steel manufacturers developed new technologies that resulted in stronger, more durable, lighter material. They differ in price and practical use and it depends on your preferences and needs which blade material you will choose. Here are the characteristics of each of them with relevant information.
Carbon Steel Blades
Carbon steel is steel that has a very high percentage of carbon. It is made for durability and strength, as it is not likely that it will crack under the even hardest strains. It is strong but it has a certain flexibility in the sense that it will not break due to its stiffness. It is great for outdoor activities such as camping as it will easily help you prepare wood for the fire, induce sparkle for lightning it, and help you prepare your food and shelter with the same high-quality performances. On the downside, carbon steel is subjected to rust and it demands higher maintenance. It has to be cleaned and greased on a regular basis to keep it functional. It also means it is not suitable for anything that has to do with salt water as it will make the blade rusty within days. On the plus side, it is easily sharpened even while in wild and it keeps its sharpness for quite some time. If you are looking for a knife that will not let you down even in the hardest conditions and can become functional (sharpened) even outdoors, the carbon steel blade is ideal for you.
Stainless Steel Blades
Stainless steel contains a high carbon percentage but with the addition of chromium which is the “main culprit” for the fact that stainless steel is much more resistant to rust. It asks for very little maintenance in a sense of cleaning and keeping the blade greased. It is very strong, it is durable and dependable. But a high percentage of chromium also means it is harder to sharpen, especially if you are out, in the wild. It also means that, if you use it for hard work, and the blade becomes dull, you will be in trouble. Although very resistant to rust, it is not completely resistant and can become rusty. Still, it takes little to keep it in perfect condition. Some types of stainless steel are very hard and strong and can be perfect for the occasional outdoor activities, such as fishing, where its performances can be valued, especially if you are fishing in salt waters. If you have the luxury of not needing a blade that can be sharpened anywhere and easily than a stainless steel blade is ideal for you.
Tool Steel Blades
Tool steel is very hard, very durable and very light. It has a high percentage of carbon and a high percentage of chrome, but that percentage is not enough to qualify it either as stainless or carbon steel. Tool steel combines the best features of both. It is strong and hard, and due to chromium content it is less prone to rust, and it has high durability and easy handling like carbon steel. One of the tool steels that have the best performances is D2 steel. D2 tool steel is used for manufacturing heavy-duty tools and in terms of survival knife manufacturing it means you will be getting a dependable tool that is suitable for hardest conditions, is less prone to rust and can be sharpened on the spot. It still can rust if not maintained properly, so you will have to clean it after usage and keep it oiled, but at the same time, it will be less frequent than with carbon steel and it could be used even in salt water, like stainless steel, provided you clean it after that and store it properly. Tool steel blades are a great choice for a lot of outdoor activities and there are not many men that will be unsatisfied with a survival knife whose blade is made of it.
Choosing the right survival knife has to be based on the purpose of a knife. The survival knife is a single most valuable tool you can have by your side and it can save your life. That is why it is important to be aware of its characteristics.