EDGE OF SURVIVAL
KEY FACTORS IN SELECTING & MAINTAINING THE PROPER KNIFE FOR A SURVIVAL SCENARIO
It’s not every day that a true legend and war hero joins our staff, so you can imagine how thrilled—and honored—we are to welcome Mr. EJ Snyder to our lineup. The highly decorated retired Ranger—who served in the military for a quarter century, which included combat action in the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom—is an elite and extreme survivalist who taught those skills to the Green Berets. But that’s not all. He has also appeared on the Discovery Channel’s “Naked and Afraid” and “Dual Survival.” He says he prides himself on being “one tough SOB,” and we aren’t about to argue that point with him.
In Edge of Survival, Snyder is going to impart his extensive knife knowledge to you in each issue. He is the real deal. He is a legend. And he is now a member of Knives Illustrated. —Editor
Think about this. When it comes to being out in the wilderness—whether hunting, backpacking, camping, or any of the various activities you could find yourself doing—one thing is for sure: a survival situation or an emergency could pop up anywhere and anytime.
Because of that, people often ask me, “What is the best knife in a survival situation?” I reply smartly, “The one you have!” Sure, you could say my response is sarcastic, but it is also so very true. When a dangerous situation pops up, I hope your preparedness and planning prove that you honestly put some thought into what type of knife or tool would be by your side. Your own life—and that of others—could depend on that one item.
So, how do you determine which knife really is the best for this? Let’s delve into that, as well as other important considerations.
When it comes to knives and other types of blades, which one is the best honestly depends on you. I tell folks all the time, “Get the knife or blade that’s best for you. The one that best serves you, your purpose, the tasks you need it for and how it will function within your skill set.”
We see many types of knives in all sorts of sizes, shapes, metals, grips and even add-ons that are just too many to number. This creates plenty of conversation. Knife enthusiasts have argued about what is best since the first blades were forged by blacksmiths thousands of years ago … and they still do today at events like the BLADE Show. The truth of the matter is you really need to find out which knife or blade works best for you.
Keep in mind that a lot of knives and blades are specifically designed for certain main functions, but any knife or blade in the hands of someone skilled can do much more. The benefit from becoming very skilled and familiar with your knife is that it also builds your confidence and proficiency. Thus, if you find yourself thrown into a situation with an unfamiliar blade, the learning curve isn’t as steep. I personally have found myself in situations in which I was handed blades that were poorly maintained, and in some cases foreign to me, but I relied on my skill set and knowledge to make them work so I could get out of the situation.
The Value of Training
Once you make your decision on the right knife, it is then critical to get lots of practice and familiarity with that selection. You really must immerse yourself in a regular regimen of practice with it. You cannot simply purchase the knife and leave it in its sheath and expect to miraculously become proficient. It takes a lot of time out in the bush or doing tasks with it regularly.
Believe me, when a survival situation or an emergency pops up, that is not the time to figure out how well the knife works or how good you are with it. Mastering your blade only comes through dedication, practice and time.
Unsheathing a knife that is full of rust tells a lot about the owner without saying a word. So, put time into the care and upkeep of your knife. Learn how to keep a sharp, keen edge on the blade, because this will yield a longer life and enable it to maintain its overall resiliency. All these factors are just as important as mastering its use.
When it comes to sharpening a knife or blade, whether at home or in the field, there are many schools of thought on techniques and ways to do it. I will save these tips for future columns, but understand that it is another vital component of it all.
Now that you have chosen the knife and mastered it, all that is left is to use it on a regular basis … and realize that this comes with great responsibility. You must always maintain awareness of the sharpened edges when it is unsheathed, the direction in which the tip is pointed, and the overall conditions around you, such as a slick muddy slope. When you are in a stressful situation, like a survival or emergency, a lot of things become degraded. You may be tired, hungry, wet and cold, and these factors are an enemy to knife control, hand-eye coordination and can even affect decision-making. Thus, it’s important to slow down and think about the task at hand so that you do not make your situation worse by accidently cutting yourself, someone near you, or worse.
On the flip side, your knife can become your best friend and partner in the situation. It becomes a trusty ally in the fight for survival, structuring rainproof shelters, processing piles of firewood, and help in building traps to catch your dinner.
No Price on Life
In a bad situation, a knife can be that one thing that saves your life and that of others. Do not get wrapped up around the price of a knife either, as I have seen great homemade ones—made from leaf springs that cost pennies—and real pieces of ornate garbage that cost thousands.
Do your research, make sure you are getting the best product for your bank and make the best choice. In my opinion, there is no price too high “when your kiester is on the line!” KI
“IT BECOMES A TRUSTY ALLY … ”