Choose a "survival" knife that will last a lifetime
How to choose: folding or fixed ?
Whatever happens with the same quality of manufacture, a fixed knife will always be stronger than a folding knife (although my folding knives are stronger than almost all the folding knives on the market (test video on the home page) with a foolproof locking system).
A folding knife is easier to store in your pocket or to hide because it's shorter when folded, no need for a sheath so it's less bulky.
A survival knife must be multifunctional, adapted to outdoor activities in the wilderness but also adapted to the urban environment, be sharp, have a glass breaker.
Be able to cut food, butcher an animal, make traps.
But also cut a climbing rope, beat, split wood to make a campfire,
serve as a crowbar to dig holes in the worst case.
Which steel to choose and especially which steel I prefer ?
I only work with high quality steels from Austria and Sweden.
These are high alloyed steels: RWL34 PM (powder metallurgy) and N690Cobalt for stainless steels.
Vanadis and Sleipner for tool steels.
The tool steels
We are not going to go through 4 paths, the tool steels (Sleipner, Vanadis) are far superior mechanically to the so-called carbon steels (like 1095, xc75) and damascus which has only for interest nowadays to have a "nice" visual rendering (and it remains relative on the "nice", it was nice 500 years ago but we are in 2020 now > article on this subject. )
Tool steels are more resistant to corrosion than carbon steels.
At sufficient thickness (between 4 to 6mm) they are indestructible on daily tasks, bushcraft or survival.
Once heat treated, these steels are used in the industry to make tools (hence their name) to cut other materials such as aluminum, copper, brass, titanium, alloys and even other steels.
Their only small concern is that they are not stainless and require to be stored in dry environments or at least be lightly lubricated with mineral oil, WD40 and Ballistol if used for food purposes.
Here are some tests I have done:
High alloy Stainless steels
The RWL34PM (powder metallurgy) and the N690Cobalt are stainless steels, they are not afraid of rusting, so they are ideal for humid, rainy environments.
They do have a slight disadvantage according to some people: they take a little longer to sharpen.
Personally I don't see any difference if you use a good ceramic or diamond stone.
The RWL34PM thanks to the powder metallurgy technology can have an ultra fine edge, much finer than standard steels
Choosing the handle for your knife
The handle must be made from extremely resistant and rot-proof materials such as micarta or G10, they do not fear heat, cold or water and require no maintenance.
Cut to be as comfortable as possible, I add toxifications (on request) to improve the grip even when wet.
For a knife intended for emergency situations, we avoid wood (even stabilized) which is a more fragile material that can move over time due to humidity and temperature.
Choosing a knife sheath
You need a sturdy case that doesn't fear water or cold, no maintenance required.
So I make them with kydex which combines all these advantages with leather and techlock loops to increase the possibility of wearing.
They are all custom made. ( Read more )
Finger choil or not?
it's a choice that is clearly based on personal taste.
Personally I like to have them on the big blades, around the 30-35 cm length to have the possibility of a closer grip for the fine work.