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#212100 - 11/30/10 01:07 PM True Stories about Survival Knives
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7372
Loc: southern Cal
The review and grylling of the latest BG knife cause me to ask, can any of the members of the forum provide personal experiences in which the Big Survival Knife played an important/crucial role in their survival?

I am definitely skeptical about the value of a BSK, based on my experience, which is primarily in the desert southwest. Reviewing my "adventures" I have several cases where building a fire was extremely important, but I handled that without using a knife. I can think of instances where a larger canteen (or more of them) would have been useful, and situations where a good FAK, primarily an elastic bandage, got me out of the wilderness and back to town. I have just never had one of those moments where I gazed skyward and said, "If only I had brought a bigger knife!"

I certainly find knives useful,and I have EDC'd various Swiss Army models to good advantage for many years. Even now I EDC a Classic along with a Leatherman Wave, and they do get used. I even own some BSKs, but they rarely make the cut when I am selecting gear. They are simply too cumbersome for what they do, IMHO.

So, enlighten me! Let's hear the personal stories where the BSK really made a difference, and, especially, where a lesser implement would have left you in the lurch.

Edited by hikermor (11/30/10 01:08 PM)
Geezer in Chief

#212102 - 11/30/10 02:46 PM Re: True Stories about Survival Knives [Re: hikermor]
falcon5000 Offline

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 662
I'll step up to the plate on this one, If you ever traveled to any third world country (which I'm sure you have) and went into the deep jungles of Philippines, shri lanki, Cambodia, panama or south America's amazon you would understand immediately that survival comes very difficult with out a machete, bolo, kurkui or what have you depending on the terrain. There is a reason that kurkui and bolo knives have been dominate through the coarse of time. In the desert,Arizona and places or that nature, there is no reason to need one but if you change your terrain, try getting through down river in the amazon with out a big knife. Even Les shroud and Bear had difficulties managing this (although Bear probably had a lot of help).

You are dealt with thick brush, vines and such notch and to move 2 feet requires you to cut through extremely dense forest. Also a big knife allows you to gather larger amounts of firewood, make building shelters faster with less energy, gives a false sense of security, kills game quicker, the list goes on. It's hard for me to explain until you just do it. Go through a Randle, Jest or some time of survival school in panama, Philippines or what have you and it will open your eyes. Can you survive without a big knife, yes and for that matter you can survive with out a knife period if you have the skills, and I know only a few I can count on my hand and I am not one of them and neither is Les or Bear.

Big knifes have a place in the Jungle where lots of big water bags for the desert. You won't see big water bags in the jungle nor do you see big knifes in the desert.

Ray Mears is one of a few people that could get away with out any knifes or equipment. One of the few people that actually gains weight living off the jungle.

As quoted by Ray Mears, "Without a machete my chances of survival would be slim and a ordinary knife is no substitute"


Edited by falcon5000 (11/30/10 03:26 PM)
Failure is not an option!
USMC Jungle Environmental Survival Training PI 1985

#212103 - 11/30/10 03:30 PM Re: True Stories about Survival Knives [Re: falcon5000]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078

As Big Man says 'Don't think wee, think Big'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lc6gvyWRkvQ wink

#212104 - 11/30/10 04:28 PM Re: True Stories about Survival Knives [Re: hikermor]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2921
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I have a number of big knives in my collection, but in practice I rarely schlep them around in the great outdoors. I guess I find them too cumbersome for fine work, and too small for heavy work.

As suggested earlier, the practicalities of local terrain and vegetation dictate the most suitable tool. The machete for jungles is a good example, proven over time.

Historically, the most suitable all-around "big knife" for northern forests has proven to be a short axe (24" handle).

In my portable kits, the "big knife" of choice has ended up being a Cold Steel shovel paired with a saw.

Edited by dougwalkabout (11/30/10 04:33 PM)

#212107 - 11/30/10 05:13 PM Re: True Stories about Survival Knives [Re: hikermor]
Todd W Offline
Product Tester

Registered: 11/14/04
Posts: 1928
Loc: Mountains of CA
I find myself using the pocket knife, and pocket chain saw.
I like a smooth bladed knife so I can carve easier, and make things. For sawing or chopping I use the pocket chain saw or a hatchet.

I have big knives, but have carried them less and less as time goes on.
Self Sufficient Home - Our journey to self sufficiency.

#212110 - 11/30/10 06:40 PM Re: True Stories about Survival Knives [Re: hikermor]
widget Offline

Registered: 07/06/03
Posts: 550
I agree with Falcon2K, there is a place for all sizes of knives.
When I was in the military I carried a 7in. knife, survival could mean more than shredding firewood.

In my daypack I carry a carbon steel Mora with a blade under 4in. Big enough for most tasks I could encounter. A knife, fixed blade of about 3.5 to 5 inches always with me in the wild.

If going to a jungle area, I like a machete about 12 to 15 inches, a useful tool for shelter building or clearing the trail.

In a heavy forest I consider a saw or an axe, depending on my trip duration/length.

I also carry a Victorinox Farmer SAK, this one has a small saw blade, a heavier blade than a standard SAK and has enough tools for most tasks.

I carry a Leatherman Wave when traveling, in the car and when doing things like cross country skiing. May need the extra tools for a binding issue or...

I seldom rely entirely on a folding knife, as an expert once said, "a folding knife is one that is already broken in the middle". While they are great for easy, light tasks, they are unreliable when it comes to heavier work, such as shelter building, batoning wood, cutting tough materials, etc.

A lot of knife taste is just that, personal taste.
No, I am not Bear Grylls, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night and Bear was there too!

#212111 - 11/30/10 06:47 PM Re: True Stories about Survival Knives [Re: hikermor]
JBMat Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 745
Loc: NC
In the military, I carried a Randall or a K-Bar, just cause. Also carried an original Leatherman and a SAK too. Same belt pouch. The belt pouch was everyday wear, the big knives for field use only.

Now I tend to a 5" Gerber, a Leatherman wave and for extreme conditions, a Woodsman Pal. I really need to get either a folding saw or chain saw, but Santa may provide.

I can think of times where I said I was glad to have a sharp knife, but never really wanted a bigger knife that what was on hand.

#212112 - 11/30/10 07:21 PM Re: True Stories about Survival Knives [Re: JBMat]
Russ Offline

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5338
As I said in the other thread, I rarely see anyone actually carry one of the big blades. I have been known to take a machete as a tool, but I wouldn't call that a survival knife, it's just a machete wink

But most survival situations happen because you get lost and don't have all your stuff. What's in your pockets?

If you do have all your stuff, then are you in a survival situation or are you just hiking and camping?
Better is the Enemy of Good Enough.
Okay, what’s your point??

#212167 - 12/01/10 05:48 PM Re: True Stories about Survival Knives [Re: hikermor]
Leo Offline

Registered: 12/27/09
Posts: 24
Loc: Colorado
As stated above, a big knife is not always required but it does make some tasks easier. We are talking about emergency survival where having over-built, over-engineerd equipment is desired, tempered by weight considerations. Building a log cabin with a Leatherman tool is a Masters thesis (or a stunt)not a survival strategy.
I don't like digging with a knife but I can turn a piece of dead wood into a shovel a lot faster with a big chopper.
It is also faster and easier to split out fire wood to get to the dry center after a 4 day rain.
In snow country a large blade can be useful as a snow knife for shelter building.
Although we don't cut live trees to build shelters much any more, in a true emergency one can turn a spruce tree into a good shelter in minutes with a big knife.
Granted a hatchet will do as well but I find a large knife easier to carry on the belt and fits better in a small survival kit. By "large" I am referring to a range from the 7" bladed K-Bar to a 10" bowie, with a weight range of 16-24 ozs sheath included. To me anything smaller/lighter is a small knife. Anything bigger is a machete or bolo.
You asked for true stories. I have never been in what I consider a true live or die survival situation but there has been a time or two when using a big knife to help get a fire going in wet or extreme cold has probably kept me out of trouble.

Edited by Leo (12/01/10 05:57 PM)

#213038 - 12/14/10 09:45 PM Re: True Stories about Survival Knives [Re: hikermor]
DavidEnoch Offline

Registered: 03/04/06
Posts: 74
Loc: Texas
When I practice shelter building I can make a better shelter more quickly with a heavy knife than with a smaller knife. I also think a large knife is easier for most people to use safely than a hatchet or short handled axe. My favorite big blade is my Charlie Ridge Survival knife.

David Enoch

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