5 Essential Survival Knife Features

A quality survival knife must to be able to perform dozens of functions. Whether you are batoning wood or preparing a meal, your survival knife must be able to live up to the demands you place on it. Because your survival knife is one of the most important items to carry into the wilderness, you need to make sure that it has a few important features. Your knife might be all you have to stand against a wilderness emergency. These important survival knife features will make all the difference in a situation like that.

Survival Knife Size

There are all kinds of knives out there, but you need to find a survival knife that is the right size.

For most survival situations, you should find a survival knife that has an overall length of around nine to eleven inches. This will give the knife a blade that is roughly five to seven inches long. 

With a blade at that length you will have the size to process fire wood, the finess to process tinder and still have a blade you can use for even finer carving tasks.

Fixed Blade

The blade of your knife is by far the most important part. It will be doing the majority of the work and needs to be very strong. A poorly made knife will break under pressure. There may be no worse feeling than to see your tool snap.

A fixed blade knife is going to be best. Folding knives are not as durable or reliable as a fixed blade. The hinge on the blade of a folding knife can break under the stress put on the blade.

Folding knives or pocket knives are just not built for the type of tasks you are going to be performing with your survival knife. Of course, a folding knife is better than nothing but its less than ideal.

Full Tang

In addition to getting a fixed blade survival knife, you should also find a knife that has a full tang. A full tang means that the handle of the knife and the blade are all one piece of steel. This usually means that you can see the metal of the blade extend through the full length of the handle, and the handle grip is attached to either side of the full tang. A survival knife with a full tang is the strongest knife that you can have because it is one solid piece. 

The opposite of this is a blade with a small “tail” that is often glued into a handle. It won’t be long for this small tail comes out of the handle. Then your focus must change from building shelter or processing wood to creating a new handle for your knife. Not good.

Singe-edged Blade

A good survival knife will also only have a sharp edge on one side of the blade. Do not get a knife with a double-edged blade because it will be impossible to perform certain tasks.

If the survival knife has only one sharp edge, then the knife can be used to split wood by batoning. Batoning is when you hit the unsharpened edge of the blade with a piece of wood and force the blade through another piece of wood in order to split it.

More edges also mean more to sharpen. A single edged blade is all you need and you also want that 90 degree spine on a survival knife to strike ferro and break down tinder without dulling your blade.


The handle of your knife needs to be solid. Hollow handled knives are for Hollywood, not wilderness survival. You need to find a knife that has a solid handle with a full tang that fits well in your hand.

The only way you will ever know if the tool fits well in your hand is if you use it! So be sure you get to know your tools.


A survival knife is a tool that, when used correctly, can benefit you in a way that few tools can. Just remember these features when you are in the market for your own knife.

Also remember, your knife is only as effective as the person who wields it. A knife doesn’t make you a master. It's only through practice that you develop the skills to survive in the wilderness. A good knife, however, makes that much easier.

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