Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
There are many different reasons to use a knife — but you have to have the right knife for the job. And you have to take care of your knife so it’s up to the task when you need it — especially if it’s a knife you’ll be betting your life on in a survival situation.
Below, our friends at the Survival Ready Blog run down the biggest blunders people make misusing their survival knives. Be sure to give it a read so you don’t make the same mistakes.
Survival Knife Mistakes
By Robert Blaze
Confession: I love my survival knife. We all love these simple tools that have hundreds of uses. You may not believe you can make mistakes with them, yet they exist, and they can force you to increase your survival budget to buy a new knife.
Unless you’re in a critical survival situation, you have no reason to make some of the mistakes below. In theory, your survival knife should last a lifetime.
Without further ado, let’s see what the biggest survival mistakes you can make with your knife are.
Cleaning and Sharpening
Provided you actually use your knife (and you most definitely should), you also need to make sure you keep it in shape. Sharpening it and oiling it are two of the most important things you must do to maintain it. The key to sharpening your knife is to do it at the right angle.
Now, cleaning it should be done every time you use it. Sharpening should be done less often. For example, you can do it when you check your survival stockpile and gear to make sure your food hasn’t spoiled and that all your tools and gear still work.
The simplest way to sharpen a knife is using a whetstone. It’s cheap and you can find plenty of YouTube videos showing you how to do it. Two places you shouldn’t forget to clean are the handle and the portion where the handle meets the blade.
Messing With the Tip of the Blade
That’s exactly what I did when I tried to open a bottle. The knife still works, sure, but I learned my lesson.
Another way you can damage it is to split wood. That’s exactly what a friend of mine did last time we went to the woods. He had this new bushcraft knife that was advertised as being able to do this. Or maybe he saw it on YouTube. I can’t remember.
Still, just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should. A good knife is expensive, so why would you want to abuse it? Sure, it’s useful to learn how to use it to split wood should you need to do it in a survival situation, but it can’t turn into a habit.
By the way, in case you want to fix a broken tip, click here for a video showing you how to do it.
Using It on the Wrong Surface
If that surface is glass, stone or the palm of your hand, you may want to reconsider. The first two will damage your knife. The third one will damage you.
Not Knowing How to Use It
I’ve used knives all my life. What do you mean I don’t know how to use it?
Well, there are best practices for most things, including knives. Plus, certain survival situations require that you’re extra careful with it. Attaching it to a pole and using it as a spear for fishing, for instance, may sound like a fun thing to try, but I wouldn’t do it unless I really, really had to. Not with my main knife, at least. Don’t use it to open cans or bottles, either.
Furthermore, please be advised of what your knife can and cannot do. Many knives are advertised as survival knives, but not all of them are able to cut certain things or split logs.
Using It to Start Fires
Unless your knife has a built-in fire starter, you should definitely not use it like that. Not unless you’re in a survival situation and don’t have a choice, of course. The thing is you can damage the blade when you use it with a ferro rod. So please don’t.
Not Choosing the Right One
Perhaps I should have started with this, but you need to know what you need before you spend your money on it. This means having basic preparedness knowledge and knowing the situations in which you intend to use it.
For example, if you’re an urban prepper, you might not need a large bushcraft knife. Your bug-out bag is probably smaller, too, so a smaller knife like those made by Morakniv will do.
Now, even if you live in the city, you still can’t rely on a folding knife. Sure, having one is great, but you cannot ever consider it a survival knife. It’s much too small for that, and you won’t be able to properly do many of the tasks you may need. They will generally take longer, and you’ll surely ruin it in the process.
So figure out whether you’ll be bugging in or out, if you want a standard bug-out bag or an INCH (I’m never coming home) bag and what activities you’ll do in the wilderness and you will be well on your way to finding the right knife for you.
Not Having a Back-up Knife
Contrary to what I’ve been saying throughout the article, the reason you might need a second knife is because you might have to, in fact, use it in ways in which it’s not intended. You want to protect your main (and more expensive) blade, so having a second blade could prove useful for things like spearfishing, splitting wood and whatnot.
[Editor’s note: If you’re looking for the ultimate survival knife, check out the indestructible NOC Knife. This handcrafted knife was designed for American patriots who want a powerful self-defense tool to protect themselves and their families when the SHTF. Click here to get one for yourself while supplies last.]