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What are the differences between tactical and non-tactical pocket knives? There are two styles of pocket knives that are popular. They are the tactical folder and the non-tactical pocket knife. For purposes of this article, I will refer to them as tactical and non-tactical folders. These knives feature similarities and some differences. Pocket knives have been on the market for many years. However, over the years, I have seen many people discuss their preferred folding-blade knife. Some people advocate one style over another. Yet, despite the many brands and blade configurations, the folding knife has two basic styles: tactical and non-tactical.

1. The Tactical Pocket Knife

The tactical folder, currently, is a knife style that is popular among preppers and outdoorsman. Television reality shows on the topic of survival and military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are the source of their current popularity. The tactical folder came about to fill a need in tactical and first-responder applications that the traditional pocket knife could not address. Some examples of tactical folders are the Benchmade® Adamas 275 and the K-Bar® Black Mule.

The Need For A Tactical Blade

The primary feature of tactical folders is the serrated edge on the blade. The traditional pocket knife only has a fine edge blade. The serrated edge helps service members, and first responders cut quickly through the ballistic nylon material. The primary need for this on the battlefield is cutting away tactical gear made of Cordura® nylon to get to a battlefield injury or wound on a servicemember. The tactical folder’s blade design is perfect for slicing through a MOLLE Chest Rig or cutting through a plate carrier in an emergency. Law enforcement personnel would have a similar need to treat a wounded officer in a gun battle.

For example, my experiences with this problem arose while serving in the Army. I had a need to cut MOLLE straps to repair my gear. The traditional fine edge blade on my Swiss Army knife could cut the material, but it took a little effort. Then I used the serrated edge on my Gerber Gator folding knife to trim some excess off of a strap, and in one swipe, it was done with minimal effort.

The Need For A Backup Fighting Knife

The next major feature of the tactical folder is that the blade length and overall length will be larger than a traditional pocket knife. The secondary purpose for a tactical folder is employment in hand-to-hand combat as a backup blade. The Leatherman® or Gerber® multitools are not practical for knife fighting. Therefore, the tactical folder gives some flexibility in the way that it can be used in various tactical applications. Furthermore, the tactical folder’s overall size requires a pocket clip to be part of the handle for convenient accesses and employment.

Quick Deployment Of The Blade

In an emergency, the blade on a tactical folder features a one-hand or assisted-opening blade. The feature is essential for the rapid deployment of the blade for self-defense or emergency first aid to a wounded soldier in the middle of a fire-fight. A traditional pocket knife does not have these features due to the purpose of a more traditional pocket knife. The one-hand opening feature allows a wounded or injured infantryman or special forces operator to employ the knife when one hand or arm is unusable. The feature also is applicable for downed military pilots in a survival situation.

2. The Non-Tactical Pocket Knife

The non-tactical folders are also known as the traditional pocket knife. The non-tactical folding knives, currently, can feature serrated or fine edge blades. However, historically, they feature only the fine edge. The blade style for a traditional pocket knife is designed for outdoor sporting and bushcraft uses. The fine-edge blade is a more practical tool for those applications. The serrated edge is not as user-friendly when attempting to construct simple traps or conduct other bushcraft tasks. The type of blade on a non-tactical folder is more useful for prepping fires and food than the larger tactical folder. Additionally, the non-tactical folder features a thumbnail notch on the blade to assist deploying the blade. Some good examples of a non-tactical folder are the Case® BoneStag Mako® or the Swiss Army Cadet.

A General Use Tool

Traditional pocket knives are more of a tool than a weapon. Although in an emergency for self-defense purposes, the non-tactical folder can be just as useful. Whereas, the tactical folder is designed to be more of a weapon than a tool. However, a tactical folder can be a helpful tool in the hands of an innovative outdoorsman or survivalist. The non-tactical folder’s purpose is as a general-use tool to be used for a variety of applications. These applications can be as a box cutter, splinter extractor, a hasty screwdriver, food processing, or carving a wooden toy for your children.

The Non-Tactical Competition

The traditional pocket knife, in recent years, has begun to feature some of the things found on the tactical folders. As stated previously, non-tactical folders can feature a partially serrated edge blade. You can also find them with one-hand opening features such as thumb studs on the spine or assisted opening. One of the more interesting traditional pocket knives to come out in recent years is the Buck Knives® 110 Auto Knife. Victorinox® is beginning to feature pocket clips on some of their knives.

Final Thoughts

Tactical and non-tactical folding blade knives will be around for a long time. A quality pocket knife is an excellent asset in the field and to carry around town. As a hiker and backpacker, the traditional pocket knife fits my needs for outdoor use. However, when I was serving in the US Army, the tactical folder was the knife that I carried in the field. There are many opinions out there on social media, blogs, and magazine articles about the pros and cons of pocket knives. It is recommended that you experiment with several styles of pocket knives if you are not sure which style of a folding knife is right for you.

The top 3 single-blade pocket knives are under $100. Pocket knives are your best tool to carry for just about every small cutting need. You can carry theses knives everyday or in the field. They will serve you well for many years with proper maintenance. The basis for choosing these knives, in part, is my personal use of some of them and familiarity with others.


The key factors that I look for in a single-blade pocket knife are similar for the multi-blade pocket knife. These factors are practicality, cost, construction, and reputation. The most expensive knives on the market are not always the most practical for my use of a pocket knife. For example, the Bastion Braza EDC folding knife is an example of a pocket knife that goes outside of my requirements for a pocket knife. So what are my top three single-blade pocket knives for under $100?


1. Case® TecX® TL-1

 


The Case® knife company, has a reputation for making high-quality pocket knives. The traditional thumbnail groove and stag bone handled knives have lost popularity in recent years. However, they are still popular with many bushcrafters and hunters. One of the modern lines of pocket knives produced by the Case® company is the TecX® series. The Case® Tec-X® TL-1 is one of the better single-blade pocket knives on the market. The pocket knife is a significant modern upgrade and continues the high quality appreciated in a Case® product.


Advantages


The Case® Tec-X® TL-1 has several advantages as a pocket knife. The first of these is that it features waterproof fiberglass and ABS high impact polymer handle. The benefits of this kind of handle are that it can handle the rigors of everyday use, yet, function adequately in the field. The stainless steel blade is another advantage of this pocket knife due to its corrosion resistance. The implications these features are that the knife is designed to be low-maintenance.


Additionally, the three-inch blade is adequate for most cutting tasks such as making primitive traps, notching, or other small tasks around your outdoor bivouac site. Thus, if the blade is maintained correctly and sharpened, it will be ready to employ in most emergencies. Therefore, the TL-1 is an excellent option for emergency preparedness or Bug-Out-Bag (BOB) considerations.


Disadvantages


The one disadvantage with this pocket knife is that many do not like a 440 stainless steel blade. Bushcrafters, especially, prefer the 1095 or D2 High Carbon steel for a knife blade. Some companies produce a pocket knife with 1095 steel blades. However, for most recreational purposes, a stainless steel blade is better as an overall blade steel for its low maintenance requirements.


The characteristics of Case® TecX® TL-1 are the following:


• 440 stainless steel; Glass reinforced ABS handle
• One-hand opening lock-back knife with Drop Point blade
• Thumb stud and pocket clip features
• Length: 4.5 inches closed and 3.6 ounces
• Price: $22.99


2. Buck Knives® 500 Duke

 


Buck Knives® is another reputable company in the knife-making world. Buck Knives® products find their use in the hunting sports. Hunters are the largest constituency that uses Buck products over the last 40 years. However, other companies, in recent times, have come about to compete with Buck Knives® for the hunting outfitter market.


Despite the growing competition, Buck Knives® produces some quality pocket knives that bear some consideration. One of the better pocket knives from Buck that a person can purchase is the Buck Knives® 500 Duke. The Duke is a great pocket knife to meet both the needs of everyday carrying and on an outdoor adventure.


Advantages


The main advantage of the Duke pocket knife is that it allows for the same cutting options as the 110 Hunter®, yet, without the bulk. The knife is about one inch shorter than its larger cousin. Therefore, it fits well in your pocket. Its 420HC stainless steel blade has the possibility of producing sparks off of the spine in an emergency. However, this action should not be a primary use of the knife. The blade length of the knife is sufficient for using around the campsite or for repairing your gear.


Disadvantages


A primary disadvantage is the blade length of the knife. Some people like to use a pocket knife as a surrogate to a fixed-blade knife. Therefore, they are looking for a pocket knife that has a blade length of four or five inches. Thus, this pocket knife may not be the solution that they are looking to add to their loadout. The blade length of this pocket knife will not be sufficient for processing wood of significant size in the field.


The characteristics of Buck 500 Duke are the following:


• Blade: 420HC stainless steel; Drop Point
• Blade Length: 3 in.
• Handle: Dymalux® Redwood with Stainless Steel Bolsters
• Lock: Lock Back
• USA Made
• Price: $77.00

 

3. Gerber® Paraframe I

 


Gerber’s Paraframe series is one of the more popular pocket knife collections on the market. There are several styles from which to choose. The Paraframe Mini knives are part of the Bear Grylls® line of pocket survival kits. However, the regular-sized Paraframe pocket knives are more popular. These pocket knives offer a good blade material, a decent blade length, and a one-hand opening option with thumb studs. Therefore, many people like to use the Gerber Paraframe pocket knives for their everyday carrying needs.


Advantages


One advantage of the Gerber Paraframe pocket knife is that it is lightweight. I purchased one when I lived in Virginia and began to carry it as an experiment. To my surprise, it was not very noticeable in my pocket. Consequently, I enjoyed carrying the Gerber Paraframe over my Swiss Army knife.


Another advantage of the knife, it features a pocket clip. The clip allows for secure storage when not in use and quick deployment in an emergency. The other knives in this list do not have a pocket clip due to being of a more traditional design.


Disadvantages


The primary disadvantage of this knife is the reputation that some have fostered about Gerber products. As a result, one may be hesitant to purchase this knife as a solution for their needs. My first exposure to Gerber products was when I was issued a Gerber MP 600; U.S. Made Multitool. It was part of my Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) gear. My RFI gear was issued before deploying to the middle east. Coincidently, my experience with Gerber products has always been excellent.


The issue with blades cracking, blades breaking, and other concerns usually reside with the way a person is attempting to use a product. Roughly handling a knife or multitool when you get angry is a quick way to ensure a blade gets broken or cracked. Additionally, I have discovered that if you attempt to use a product for something outside of its design parameters, it will fail every time. Therefore, be careful about how you are using this knife or any pocket knife.


The characteristics of Gerber Paraframe I are the following:


• Overall Length: 7.01in.
• Closed Length: 4.11in.
• Weight: 2.6 oz.
• Blade Length: 3.01in.
• Blade Style: Clip Point
• Blade Material: High Carbon Stainless
• Blade Type: Fine
• Lock Mechanism: Frame-lock
• Handle Material: Stainless Steel
• Opening Style: One-handed opening (Thumb Studs)
• Price: $28.00


Final Thoughts


Pocket knives are a great asset to carry. They allow you the cutting advantage necessary when the need arises. Pocket knives are not weapons but tools to use at the appropriate time and for the proper application. Single-blade pocket knives the oldest version of the pocket knife. They are fun to carry and to use as conversation starters. As you consider a good pocket knife, that is budget-friendly, the three knives in this article are a good starting point

These top 3 multi-blade pocket knives will give you the advantages that you need, whether at home or outdoors. Pocket knives are tools, not weapons. Tactical folding knives are designed for emergency rescue and tactical field activities such as emplacing trip-wired booby traps. They are also large enough to be used as a backup knife in a hand-to-hand combat situation. Additionally, tactical folding knife blades are designed for quick deployment with the use of a thumb stud or spring assistance. Therefore, tactical folders fall more into the weapon category than as field tools.

By contrast, the traditional pocket knife is more of a tool than a weapon. Pocket knives were the first multitools before the plier-oriented Leatherman and Gerber concepts came to the market. Traditional pocket knives usually have one or two blades. Frontiersman and outdoorsmen use these knives for utility purposes such as setting traps, processing game, cutting bandage strips or carving simple tools. Moreover, the pocket knife tends to have an average length of the palm of a person’s hand when the blades are retracted into the handle.

1. Victorinox Swiss Army Hiker

 

The first of the top three pocket knives that you should consider is the Swiss Army Hiker pocket knife by Victorinox®. It is my top pocket knife for either every day carrying or on the hiking trail. This knife falls into the medium knife category for Victorinox®. The Hiker combines a perfect blend of size and practicality. Some Swiss Army knives overpower you with options. However, the Hiker gives you precisely what you need without weighing down your pocket or pack. An alternative option for this pocket knife among the available Swiss Army knives is the Pioneer, Spartan, Tinker, or Farmer.

The Hiker features include Can Opener, Key Ring, Large Blade, Phillips Screwdriver, Reamer, Small Blade, Toothpick, Tweezers, Wood Saw, Bottle Opener, Large Screwdriver, Small Screwdriver, Wire Stripper. It is a two-two blade knife. The two knife blades are X50CrMoV15 steel. This steel is comparable to 440A Stainless. One source gives the following explanation of the steel in the Swiss Army knife:
The characteristics of X50CrMoV15 steel are the following:

  • Very high hardness – Up to 56 Rockwell C
  • Retention of blade sharpness
  • Moderate corrosion resistance better than standard 12% martensitic grades
  • Poor weldability

According to the description, X50CrMoV15 uses the moderately high carbon content of 0.50% to develop a high hardness martensitic microstructure. The higher chromium plus small molybdenum addition gives a greater corrosion resistance than standard martensitic grades. Vanadium allows higher tempering temperatures to be used and gives greater toughness.

Therefore, the Swiss Army Hiker pocket knife is a durable and reliable knife to take to the outdoors or around town.

2. U.S. Army Pocket Knife (NSN: 5110-00-162-2205)

 

The U.S. Army pocket knife is an all-weather stainless steel pocket knife. Several different manufacturers have produced the knife since its beginnings. Case, Marbles, Camillus, and the Colonial Knife Company have been the makers of the knife. This pocket knife is a general-purpose knife that was a standard item in military survival kits and maintenance toolsets for many years. They are becoming more difficult to find through regular retail or online stores. You can purchase them on eBay® as military surplus. Marbles® is making a replica of lower quality than the original for less than $20. Currently, the knife can be ordered through the Colonial Knife Company® in Rhode Island. They are still making the knife to military specification per MIL-K-818D.

However, an alternative option for this knife is the Boy Scouts® Camp Pocket Knife. The Boy Scout knife has the same knife blades and tools as the U.S. Army pocket knife. However, it has bone scales instead of stainless steel ones. Case Knives® used to make a similar knife to the BSA® knife. The latest search of their website reveals their version of this pocket knife is not available.

The blade material for the U.S. Army Pocket knife is 440 Stainless Steel. 440 Stainless Steel is often in use with medical cutting instruments. Knife blades of this material have a resistance to corrosion and retain their edge. Since the purpose of the knife is for general use, the blade material is suitable for that application.

 

3. Buck Knives® 301 Stockman® Knife

 

The Buck Knives® 301 Stockman® Knife is a classic pocket knife configuration. This pocket knife is the preferred knife of my dad. He has worn out several of these over the years. The knife has three blades which are of 420HC stainless steel. The handle comes with two options: rosewood or black Valox™. Furthermore, 301 Stockman is made in the USA.

The company says of the blades on the knife, “The clip blade is good for detailed work, the spey blade is good for skinning or sweeping knife strokes, and sheepsfoot blade is perfect for giving a clean cut, especially on a flat cutting surface.”

As a general-purpose pocket knife for your everyday needs or in the field, the Buck Knives 301 Stockman is an excellent option to consider if you are in the market for a quality pocket knife.

Concluding Comments

Pocket knives are part of the outdoor sporting world. They have been around for a long time. Additionally, these knives are a standard tool for many people who need a general use knife blade. There is some discussion about how to categorize pocket knives as tools or weapons. However, your local laws will dictate the definition and categorizing of pocket knives as weapons or tools. If you are looking for reliable and quality pocket knives, the three knives in this article are options to consider adding to your kit or loadout.

There are five survival items that you should carry at all times. We never know when we will be in an emergency survival situation. One does not need to be going deep in the backcountry to prepare for an unplanned event. There are many discussions about everyday carry (EDC), bug out bags (BOB), and other solutions to address emergencies. However, emergency survival does not gradually creep up on a person.

An emergency survival situation happens suddenly and catches someone by surprise. It is similar to an ambush in combat. In the chaos of the initial minutes of a survival situation, the survival gear you are carrying will be the first items employed. Therefore, it is essential to carry these five gear items as a baseline in your emergency survival planning. These items are compatible in any environment in which a survival situation arises.

1. Triple Sensor Solar Digital Watch

 

The triple sensor digital solar watch is a versatile survival item that you can carry at all times. The vital aspect of these watches is that they are compatible with wearing business attire or rugged outdoor clothing. The triple sensor watch is also known as an ABC watch. These watches give you three sensors that display, (A) altitude, (B) barometer/temperature, and (C) compass readings.

Advantages

All three capabilities allow you to have situational awareness of your environment at all times. Most of these watches have a built-in light, so the watch display is readable at night. The solar cells in the watch face charge the internal battery. As a result, the watch stays operational at all times. For example, I purchased my watch in 2015 and have never encountered a need to change the battery.

Disadvantages

The main disadvantage with a triple sensor digital watch is that the compass readings can be tricky to understand. Additionally, the compass does not constantly display for use like a baseplate or orienteering compass in the outdoors. Thus, the compass enables dead reckoning for gaining a bearing rather than shooting and maintaining an azimuth. However, during an emergency survival situation, the triple sensor watch can get you through the mad-minute until you can stop, observe, assess, reassess and reorient (SOAR) your situation.

2. Pocket Knife/Folding Knife

 

The pocket knife is a traditional survival tool. The history of the pocket knife spans human history from the Iron Age to the present times. However, the pocket knife in its current configuration came about in the 1600s. A pocket knife goes by another name, such as a folder or tactical folder.

Nevertheless, the pocket knife is a versatile tool to carry at all times. The environment that you function in every day will influence what kind of pocket knife that you carry on you at all times. Like the triple sensor watch, carrying a pocket knife works as well with business attire as it does with outdoor clothing.

Blade Length Consideration

The knife blade on a pocket knife does not have to be very long to meet your needs. The smallest blade length to of practical use is one that is between 2.5 and 3.5 inches. Some companies offer pocket knives with shorter knife blades. Consequently, those knives have a limitation in their use. However, a pocket knife blade that has a minimum length of around 3 inches will allow you to get through the initial minutes of an emergency. However, a pocket knife with a 4-5-inch blade is optimal.

Is a pocket knife a tool or a weapon?

The local laws governing the carrying of knives influences what kinds of knives one can carry. For example, the famous stiletto switchblade knives are illegal to carry in some places because they are classified as weapons rather than as utility tools. Some survival experts recommend carrying a knife to use as a tool and as a self-defense weapon. However, it is prudent to understand what your local laws allow and prohibit regarding the carrying of knives.

Recommended Pocket Knives

The Swiss Army Farmer by Victorinox is a good pocket knife to carry. Another decent pocket knife is the Stockman by Buck Knives. A budget-friendly pocket knife is the TecX® X-Pro I by Case Knives. One of these knives is a great cutting option to consider carrying as part of the baseline emergency survival gear that you carry at all times whether you are in the office or out in the backcountry.

3. Butane Lighter

 

The butane lighter is a standard fire starting method in most emergency survival kit configurations. Butane lighters have been around for a long time. The most recognizable butane lighters are the Zippo® and Bic® brands. Zippo® lighters are made of stainless steel and can be refilled with butane lighter fluid. Bic® lighters are a disposable lighter made of plastic. Therefore, either type of lighter can enable making an emergency fire in any environment.

Advantages

The advantages of carrying a butane lighter are the ability to produce a flame with relative ease. These lighters can be carried in the inner pocket of a suit coat or the trouser pocket of casual or outdoor pants. Therefore, if you need to make a hasty fire in an emergency, the butane lighter enables the completion of that survival task.

Disadvantages

A disadvantage with butane lighters is the limited amount of fuel they carry to produce a flame. Butane fuel also evaporates over time. The Bic lighter has a vapor release button that if depressed, will release the vapors of the fuel. Bic lighters are not refillable once the fuel is gone. By contrast, Zippo lighters have a saturated cotton batting on the bottom. The butane fuel evaporates from this batting and requires periodic refilling. Thus, one needs to carry a can of butane fuel to refill a Zippo lighter.

Survival Considerations

Despite their disadvantages, in an emergency survival situation, the butane lighter is reliable enough to enable you to start a fire when necessary. They are safe to carry in an urban environment or on the trail. They are simple to use.

4. Micro LED Flashlight

 

Micro flashlights are an essential item to carry on you at all times. These flashlights are sometimes known as keychain flashlights. There are two common types of these flashlights: tubular and flat. The tubular style micro flashlight looks like a miniature version of a traditional flashlight. It usually has to be twisted to be turned on. The flat style flashlight tends to have an oval or rectangular shape and operate with a button depressed switch.

5. Hand Sanitizer Wipes

 

Hand Sanitizer Wipes are a convenient way to carry a dual purpose survival item. In a previous article, we gave some discussion about hand sanitizer as a survival item. Hand sanitizer wipes are single-use wipes that can clean your hands or function as tinder to start a fire. These wipes fit easily into a wallet, purse, shirt, or trouser pockets. A hand sanitizing wipe used with a butane lighter will allow an emergency fire to be built.

Final Thoughts

Emergency survival planning involves decisions about the gear one carries. Sometimes these discussions transition into everyday carry, bugging out or getting home kits. The items in the list above are not comprehensive in nature. Instead, they are a simple baseline which allows for additions and modifications to fit your environment and needs.

However, one of the lessons that 9-11 teaches is the importance of carrying survival gear on you during an emergency. For example, in a mass casualty event in an urban setting, you may not be able to access that EDC bag or get to your car and pull your get home bag. Therefore, those survival items that you have access to in an emergency can influence the outcome.

Moreover, in an emergency survival situation in the backcountry, you may be separated from your main pack. Thus, what you carry on yourself, such as, in your pockets, may determine the difference between life and death. For example, you may suffer a mechanical injury that immobilizes you or severely limits your ability to move. Your pocket knife, microlight, or butane lighter may be the x-factor in your being rescued. The story of Aron Ralston reveals the value of carrying survival gear on you when emergency survival happens to you.

Are there effective one tool options? The answer is that it depends on the intended use of your cutting instrument. Are bushcraft knives better than multitools? Are multitools better than bushcraft knives? It is essential to ensure that you have the appropriate tools for functioning effectively and efficiently in the outdoors. Most survival experts advise taking some type of cutting instrument with you into the field, such as a fixed blade knife. Comprehensive packing lists for backpackers and hunters consist of both a fixed blade knife and a multitool. However, what if you are limited to just one cutting option?

The Bushcraft Knife Overview

The bushcraft knife or an equivalent fixed blade knife is the tool of choice for most outdoorsman. The description of these knives are the one tool option to ensure survival and sustainment in the field. There are specific characteristics that define a quality bushcraft knife. Those features are as follows:

  • Length of the Blade: 5-8 inches
  • Type of Steel: D2 or 1095 HC
  • Blade Spine: 90°, sharp-edged
  • Coating of the Blade: None

These features can be negotiable such as the case with the Morakniv® knives.

The purpose of these knives is to allow a person to conduct various field tasks. The bushcraft knife blade is short enough to do small jobs like process firewood or carve traps. However, the blade is long enough to adequately process game or to function as a self-defense weapon, such as a spear.

The Multitool Overview

The multitool has grown in sophistication over the years. Most people’s first exposure to a multitool was either a Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman® PST. The origin of the multitool concept is with the pocket knife. The addition of multiple blades, can openers, or bottle openers as features on pocket knives reflect the multitool concept. The Boy Scout Pocket Knife was an early example of these kinds of pocket knives. However, contemporary multitools feature pliers, folding handles, with various tools that tuck into the handles. A folding blade and saw blade are often part of the modern multitool. Leatherman® and Gerber® are the largest manufacturers of contemporary multitools.

The purpose of the modern multitool is to function as a compact toolbox for the handyman, mechanic, electrician, or other skilled laborers. Anglers and hunters saw that the contemporary multitool was an asset for their needs and began to use them. Thus, the multitool entered the outdoor world. The favorite features on a multitool for anglers and hunters are the pliers and knife blade. Yet, is the multitool a good one tool option for field survival?

Bushcraft Knife verses A Multitool In The Field

 

Processing Fish

A recent experience of mine revealed the strengths and weaknesses of the single tool option concept. My son and I went fishing as part of a church activity in the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico. We caught five small to average length trout. We had to cook them since we did not bring a cooler to keep them in for transportation back to the house. The cooler that I intended to take was unusable, and I did not have time to get another one before the trip. I did not have to gut the fish because the folks running the location did it for us as a complimentary courtesy for fishing in their private pond. As an experiment, I used my multitool to prepare the fish for cooking.

I had my Leatherman® Sidekick® on me, so I proceeded to prepare the fish for cooking. My original intent was to fillet them to avoid my son having to eat any bones accidentally. That turned out to be a useless effort and was advised by a more experienced gentleman just to wrap them in aluminum foil and place them on the grill. This was a concept that was familiar with, so I finished preparing the other fish. After they were finished cooking, I ran into another issue, how do you effectively take the meat off and leave the bones? I decided to peel the meat off after cutting the heads and tails off of fish. The saw blade on the multitool was used to cut the heads and tails off. It quickly became evident why anglers have a filet knife in their tackle boxes. A multitool is not the most efficient tool to process fish of average size except for gutting them.

Processing Game

A more recent observation also reinforced the practical nature of a bushcraft knife as a one tool option over a multitool. The latest episode of the television show, Alone, shows a contestant with hunting experience attempting to process a full-sized moose with only a multitool. He successfully killed the moose with his bow and arrow. He later comments while processing the moose that he regretted not having his fixed blade knife on him. Most hunters take a game processing kit with them into the field. These kits have various blades for cutting, chopping, and skinning, as well as sawing bones. A multitool seems to have some of these features. However, the contestant quickly realized that the job of processing that kind of game with a multitool was a daunting effort. It took the contestant six hours to process the moose with his multitool and transport the meat to his bivouac location.

Furthermore, as I was watching this unfold, it brought to remembrance some things that I have read or heard by outdoorsman about the bushcraft knife and its uses. Here is an excellent example of why frontiersman, trappers, and mountain men had the type of knives that they carried in the field. They found themselves having to process deer, elk, moose, or bear after hunting them. A two or three-inch knife blade or saw blade was not going to get the job accomplished. The contemporary outdoorsman is no different. Thus, as a one tool option, it would seem that the bushcraft knife is preferable to the multitool.

Some Final Thoughts

The bushcraft knife or the multitool as the one tool option? Which is best? The answer still comes down to what is your intended use for a cutting instrument. Most outdoor experts will advise carrying at least two or three kinds of cutting tools: a fixed blade knife, a folding knife, and a multitool. The folding knife and multitool are used for smaller tasks like fashioning fishing hooks, carving traps, or making primitive weapons. The fixed blade is used for the more significant functions beyond the campsite. However, if you are limited to just one of those three, a quality bushcraft knife seems to be the choice.

The proper tool for the task is the best option of all. Yet, some people find themselves separated from their gear and only have what they are carrying on their belts. Keeping your fixed blade knife attached to your belt is a sure technique for having a knife when you need it. Thru-hikers, ultralight, and multiday backpackers tend to not carry things on the belts of their trousers or shorts. This is done for the comfort and to avoid getting sores rubbed on their body by the friction of the pack waist belt rubbing against their body and things attached to their belts. It would seem that a drop-leg approach to carrying a bushcraft knife might be an option in this scenario. Nevertheless, a quality bushcraft knife is the best one tool option for wilderness survival considerations. Therefore, shop around and find the bushcraft knife that works best for your needs.

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