Quality Steel – Quality Knife
When purchasing survival gear, it’s not worth being conservative over the price. The tools and equipment you take with you when you go hiking or camping may not mean the difference between life and death—though they certainly can in some circumstances—but having inferior equipment can make your experience much less enjoyable. In order to get quality equipment, you need both excellent build-quality and high-grade materials.
In the case of a tactical survival knife, the most critical part is the blade. The handle is important, of course, but a knife with a poor handle may just be awkward to use, whereas a knife with a poor blade is mostly useless. When you buy a survival knife made with cheap metal, you risk it blunting much more quickly than a higher-quality knife, or even breaking in some cases.
The best steel for knife blades, in our opinion, is 154CM, as it offers the best mix of durability, longevity, and the ability to hold a sharp edge for longer. Of course, every steel has different properties, and you may find there is steel that is less expensive than 154CM that will do the job you need from it. So, with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the steels used in making knife blades, and how to choose the best steel for a tactical survival knife.
What is a Tactical Survival Knife?
You don’t have to be an expert in bushcraft to understand the value of a knife when you’re out in the wilderness, but not all knives are created equal. Knives that are designed for finely slicing ingredients may have an extremely sharp edge, but they are not designed to withstand the kind of abuse that a survival knife will typically be subjected to.
While survival knives do get used for cutting up ingredients on occasion, they are also used for whittling wood, opening canned food, cutting vines and twine, and a whole host of other uses that you may find yourself needing as you get back in touch with nature.
Survival knives may be multifunctional, for example, having a serrated edge on the back of the knife for cutting through wood more easily.
Why Would You Need a Military Knife?
We’ve mentioned camping, but a pleasant little getaway is not the only reason you might need a tactical hunting knife. Here are some of the more common reasons you might need a tactical survival knife.
Starting with the example we’ve already mentioned, camping is probably the most likely situation that regular people will find themselves in need of a survival knife, from opening the packaging on your food to fashioning stakes from wood collected from your surroundings, the uses for a survival knife when camping is plenty.
Uses of a survival knife are not limited to cutting and shaving things, however. For one thing, you can use the butt of your knife handle to hammer your whittled stakes into the ground. And, by combining your knife with a piece of flint, you can use the blade to start a fire.
Many of the uses your survival knife has in camping also apply to hunting, with the added exception that a good survival knife will also be excellent for skinning animals, be they large and furry animals or small and fishy.
In addition to the uses mentioned above, there are plenty of unique uses for survival knives in the military, not least of which is as a weapon. You can use the knife to make traps, also.
Different Types of Steel for Tactical Survival Knives
There are some base-level attributes you want from the metal used in your knife blades, such as rust-resistance, and the ability to stay sharp. Below are the four most common types of steel used in tactical survival knives.
We’ve already named this one as our best steel for knife blades, but it can’t hurt to tell you a little about it. 154CM is possibly the most popular materials used to make survival knife blades. It is incredibly resistant to breakage and corrosion, and it does a great job at keeping its edge.
Being a high carbon steel, 1095-HC is not resistant to rust like 154CM. It can also fall afoul of standing if it is not well looked after. That being said, it is a very common material that is both durable and able to hold its edge. And, as long as you look after it, you should not run into any problems with rust or staining.
AUS-8 is particularly dense steel, which is both a positive and a minus. On the one hand, they are extremely durable. But, on the other hand, they are very difficult to sharpen because of that steel density. This steel is rust-resistant, however.
D2 is another high carbon offering, though not quite as high as 1095-HC. It is resistant to corrosion but slightly less durable than the 1095-HC.
Buying a Survival Tactical Knife
Picking over the material that a part of an item you are buying consists of may seem like being overly keen to some, but the steel used in a survival blade is perhaps the most important aspect in a good survival knife. It can mean the difference between a knife that will be with you for years, and one that you have to replace after only a few trips out with it.
Of course, regardless of which material you choose, you should always take care to maintain your survival knife in order to prevent it from developing problems. Keeping the blade clean and sharp should be considered a must while ensuring the handle is clean and firmly attached should avoid any unfortunate accidents during use.
Our pick for the best steel for knife blades was 154CM because we feel it offers the best mix of being durable and resistant to damage, but that is not to say that one of the other options we mentioned wouldn’t work for you. It is all about finding what works for you and your situation.