Story and Photos by Dana Benner
There are a lot of different knives out there – in many varied styles, from a large field of manufacturers.
Like everything else, knives come in a variety of price ranges. You can pick up a knife at the local truck for $10.00 or you can purchase a hand-crafted blade for thousands of dollars. Which one would suit you better? Well, that all depends on your budget and what your intentions are for the knife.
Let me start by saying that none of the knives mentioned here are what I would consider my first choice for my primary blade, especially in regard to a survival knife.
If you are looking for a tough bush knife, that will see constant use, then I would go for a hand-crafted or high-quality production knife – like the ones put out by L.T. Wright, TOPS Knives or any of the other high quality knife makers.
If the knife is to be your emergency knife – the one that stays in your pack, clipped to your PFD, in your vehicle or in your pocket – then you can go for some of the less expensive blades available, and the knives mentioned here all fit that bill.
There are many inexpensive knives out there, but I tend to lean towards those put out by SOG and Gerber. Despite my opinion about certain knives, the brand of knife is not as important as whether or not it is the right one for you. Only you can make that decision.
All too often we use the words “cheap” and “inexpensive” interchangeably, but they really aren’t. They mean two entirely different things.
“Cheap” knives are the ones you find being sold in gift shops, gas stations, flea markets and discount stores. They are often dull, made from inferior steel and just aren’t made to last.
I am often asked by people to sharpen their knives, only to be presented with one of these cheap blades. It usually takes me a while to put an edge on them, knowing full well it will not last. I wouldn’t stake my life on them and neither should you.
“Inexpensive” knives are those made by some very reputable knife makers and are constructed of good steel. They can be readily sharpened and will hold an edge reasonably well. Price wise they generally fall in that $30.00 to $40.00 range.
Stay away from those $10.00 knives, as you get what you pay for.
For this article I looked at about ten knives and, after testing, came up with five that I would own. Those five knives include two from SOG and three from Gerber – with three being folders and two being fixed blades.
Despite their relatively low prices, they are knives that I would carry.
I have a passion for fixed blade knives. With that said, there are some really good folders out there. So, when asked which is best, I always answer “What works for you?”
It is like asking 100 fishermen “what lure works the best?” I guarantee you will get 100 different answers. Stick to what you feel the most comfortable with.
What follows are the knives that I really liked.
The AEGIS FLK is a moderately sized folder, with an overall length of 7.8 inches and a weight of 5.1 ounces. The blade is made from 8R13MOV stainless steel and measures 3.38 inches.
Its weight makes it heavy in the pocket but is well worth the load. If you find it too cumbersome, it makes a great addition to your day pack as well.
I really like this knife. Its overall length is 6.2 inches and it weighs 2.0 ounces. The blade is made from 8CR13MOV-RC 54-58 stainless steel and it measures 2.75 inches.
The slim design and lightweight skeleton make it very comfortable to carry in your pocket.
I really this knife. It is light, weighing 2.3 ounces, so you hardly feel that you are carrying it. It has an overall length of 7.25 inches, with a blade length of 3.25 inches. The blade has a sheepsfoot drop point and is made from 420HC steel.
A backlock keeps the blade in place when open and the handle is very comfortable during use.
The Spine is a fixed blade knife that is great for the beginning outdoorsperson or the experienced woodsperson looking for a back-up blade.
It measures 5.4 inches overall and has a blade length of 3.7 inches. Overall weight is 6.6 ounces. Blade material is 7Cr17MoV steel and has a full tang for strength and rubberized grip for secure all weather use.
The Tri-Tip is a cool little knife – part cleaver and part skinner – that is extremely sharp and holds an edge well.
It weighs in at 3 ounces and measures 5.5 inches overall. The blade has a cutting edge of 3 inches and is made from 7CR17MOV steel. The Tri-Tip has a full tang for strength and machined aluminum handle scales.
As most people who know me realize, I consider knives to be tools; tools that make my life easier. Ninety percent of the time I carry at least one knife, but it is usually more.
When kayaking or canoeing you’ll always find a knife on my PFD – just in case. Likewise, there is always an extra knife in my pack and one in my truck. Most of the time these extra knives are not needed, but it is good to know that they are there, if ever the need should arise.
While I always want these knives to be of good quality, there is no need for them to be the very best available. Remember, these are back-up knives, and inexpensive knives fit the need just fine.
But, don’t cheap out as your life could depend on it. K&G
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SOG AEGIS FLKBlade Material: 8Cr13MoV Stainless SteelBlade Length: 3.38″Closed Length: 4.60″Overall Length: 7.90″Blade Finish: StonewashWeight: 5.1 ouncesFrame/Handle Material: Stainless SteelLocking Mechanism: Frame LockMSRP: $34.95
SOG Cash CardBlade Material: 8Cr13MoV Stainless SteelBlade Length: 2.75 inchesClosed Length: 3.375Overall Length: 6.125Blade Finish: SatinWeight: 2.0 ouncesFrame/Handle Material: Stainless SteelLocking Mechanism: Liner LockMSRP: $34.95
Gerber Sharkbelly – SerratedBlade Material: 420HC Stainless SteelBlade Length: 3.25 inchesOverall Length: 7.87Weight: 2.3 ouncesFrame/Handle Material: Glass Filled NylonLocking Mechanism: LockbackMSRP: $34.00
Gerber SpineBlade Material: 7Cr17MoV Stainless SteelBlade Length: 3.7 inchesOverall Length: 8.4 inchesWeight: 6.6 ouncesHandle Material: Textured RubberMSRP: $38.00
Gerber Tri-TipBlade Material: 7Cr17MoV Stainless SteelBlade Length: 3 inchesOverall Length: 5.5 inchesWeight: 3 ouncesHandle Material: Machined AluminumMSRP: $36.00
SOG AEGIS FLKSOGKnifeCenterSmokey Mountain Knife Works
SOG Cash CardSOGBlade HQKnifeCenterSmokey Mountain Knife Works
Gerber Sharkbelly – SerratedGerberSmokey Mountain Knife Works
Gerber SpineGerberBlade HQKnifeCenterSmokey Mountain Knife Works
Gerber Tri-TipGerberBlade HQKnifeCenterSmokey Mountain Knife Works
Dana Benner has been writing about all aspects of the outdoors, survival, history and culture for over 30 years. His work appears in regional and national publications.
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