Cutting tools, like any tools, are the subject of much debate be it as a work tool among carpenters or as a hobby tools among outdoors folk.
As both a bushcraft and survival instructor I will use the bushcraft knife as my example here - in the area of the bushcraft hobbyist a knife, a saw and a axe are the 'norm' and as most bushcrafter’s try to emulate Ray Mears they tend to fall into the trap of buying an expensive clone of his own design of knife.
While, for craft work, the best tool you can afford is an acceptable maxim and if its your hobby you will happily spend a few pounds more for it - but does a £200 plus knife cut or carve any better than a good quality £10? Indeed I would argue that a Mora Clipper is equal to most tasks and generally as good in use as most custom £200 jobs. Further more in todays world I would also argue that a factory made knife in many ways is superior to a handmade custom job, primarily because a big business such as Mora in Sweden or Leatherman in the states has the science and technology to produce metals which are of the highest quality in mix for pennies and as such leaves the poor hand make lumbered with little choice above tool steel which they can afford to by in small quantities regardless of the steels quality (although you'd still hear arguements for Hand made steels ect - mostly from those who make them or their friends and this is fair enough a knife is a very personal thing so if the price suits you go for it!) - so a £10 brand name factory knife could and in all respects probably is equal if not better in quality of steel to any hand made £200 knife - maybe not as pretty or aesthetically pleasing however.
For the survival knife, as opposed to the craft knife, should we be any less sentimental? Should we go for an expensive tool that looks good on our hip or a cheaper more practical workman like tool?
I personally would say the survivor (and if you can afford the best please feel free to buy it - the Wilderness knife from Bearclaw bushcraft and the neck knife combo are excellent! ") ) should be more interested in usability rather than looks! The survivor wants a tool that can be used in everyway possible not a work of art they are afraid to use in case they damage it, we want a tool that is easily packed and comes in a tough sheath workman like sheath - not something we can pose with on our hip - but something we can rely on letting actions speak louder than words.
Unlike the Bushcrafter the Survivor should also be looking for a tool which has the greatest level of versatility available in one tool rather than relying on have specific tools for specific tasks aka spoon knives ect. Ideally the tool the survivor chooses should be able to act as a axe and a knife, should be able to be used to dig with (and yes I know you can carve a digging stick) and to pound, should have the weight for heavy work yet the balance for fine work, the survivor doesn’t have the luxury of a sheath knife, a axe, a saw, a spoon knife and a necker ect - the survivor at best has a camp knife and a pocket knife so the choice is vital.
The pocket knife we have discussed in the Super Swede article but what about the camp knife?
Ideally this needs to be a big knife a blade of 7 - 12 inches would be ideal! It also needs to be a no frills tool - we will use it for many tasks, we will use it hard so it must be a strongly constructed tool, reliable and easily maintained.
To my mind the Khukri meets the above criteria, and as such is an ideal tool for the survivor. This coupled with the super Swede will meet all the survivors needs - a tried and tested tool with a history of reliability behind it!! The tool itself is simple and traditionally made from Vehicle leaf suspension spring - the shape means the chopping weight is forward on the belly making the tool easily as effective as a hatchet but far safer in use. This coupled with the two little knives - Karda and Chakmak make it a good alrounder as you would expect from a tool that has been relied upon for over 2500 years!
KHUKURI \ KUKRI KNIFE: A mid-length curved knife comprising a distinctive “Cho” that is the national knife and icon of Nepal, basic and traditional utility knife of Nepalese, a formidable and effective weapon of the Gurkhas and an exquisite piece of local craftsmanship that symbolizes pride and valor which also represents the country and it’s culture. Believed to have existed 2500 years ago; “Kopi” is the probable source of the Khukuri that was used by Greek in the 4 th BC. However, khukuri came into limelight only in and particularly after the Nepal War in 1814-15 after the formation of British Gurkha Army. Basically carried in a leather case, mostly having walnut wooden grip and traditionally having two small knives, it is one of the most famous and feared knives of the world.
Khukri Musuem Nepal
The Kukri is a excellent full sized camp knife ideal for all the tasks we'd ask of a Hatchet or small forest axe - in recent trials I used my Kukri for every type of task I'd use a small axe for and it has been as easily as effective although practice and experience are require to familiarise yourself with the tool but no more so than the equal amount required to learn safe axe use.
The two smaller knives go a long way to making the Kukri a far more complete outfit. The smallers knives (usually 3" in length - 1" blade) are the Karda which is a utility blade ideal for food or game prep and all those niggally little tasks the bigger blade is deemed to cumbersome for - being of a low temper the Karda is easily resharpened. The OTHER tool is a Chakmak this is a sharpening device not really a stone more like a file or ceramic rod................but it is also a tool that can be used with flint for fire lighting as in your standard flint and steel - more versatile still ots also a excellent scrapper for the fire steel (ferro rod) casting huge sparks. While the Karda and Chakmak arent essential (as I usually carry the Kukri and the Super Swede) they do make for great additions and are ideal for the survivor looking to carry just one tool!!
The Kukri, like any knife that over the years has been relied upon by native people and that has not evolved with time, can be deemed to having stood the test of time and its lack of modern gadgets or evolution as being due to the fact IT WORKS and this if nothing else tells the survivor it is a tool to be trust and relied upon.
One down side - well only if you dont know how to sharpen a knife - is the fact they dont come razor sharp out the packet - but as we ALL know you should always sharpen a knife from new before use anyway so this doesnt matter.
Or looking at it in a positive light - from new it allows you to put the angle and cutting edge you want on the blade from the start, making its more personal and easier to maintain in the future ")
http://www.bearclawbushcraft.co.uk/trading/kukri.htm Kukri's available from bearclaw Bushcraft ranging from the 9" general purpose to the jungle slashing 12" survival model - all hand made and authentic!