I just saw an interesting video on YouTube discussing the choice of plain carbon steel or stainless steel when it comes to choosing a survival knife blade. I took the time to learn about different knife steels. The conclusion I came to: It doesn’t matter.
If you are constantly in very wet conditions, you’ll know it, and you’ll know to opt for stainless steel. Otherwise, the choice is largely a matter of personal preference.
Stainless steel requires less maintenance (drying and lubing), but is more expensive and harder to sharpen. It also won’t spark when striking a flint, whereas plain carbon steel will. Other than that, there are no big differences.
So decide whether or not you need corrosion resistance. And then choose your steel based on other, more important factors, like edge retention vs. resistance to chipping, or cost.
Leon Pantenburg of Survival Common Sense tells us the 5 things he avoids when choosing a survival or hunting knife.
- A Folding Knife. The hinge is a weak point. If it fails, you might be waiving Mr. Pointy Finger goodbye.
- A Gut Hook. It just gets in the way. The hook can accidentally snag or cut stuff. It also creates a weak, narrow area in the blade. If you need a gut hook, get a dedicated one to take with on hunting trips.
- A Serrated Edge. A plain edge is better suited for outdoor tasks, particularly woodwork.
- A Hollow Handle. This weakens your knife in two ways. The hollow handle is clearly weaker than a solid one. Also, a hollow handle means the blade cannot be a full tang. So the blade itself is compromised.
- A Long Blade. Experience has shown that a long blade is just unnecessary. Leon has moved towards shorter blades over the years.
His knife of choice: the excellent Cold Steel SRK. Watch the video, then go get a good survival knife. Be prepared.