Hollywood and its depictions of what is practical in the real world are more often than not… waaaay off.
But when when it comes to what size knife Rambo thinks makes a good survival knife… Hollywood got it right… bigger is better! Sorry MacGyver, but that Swiss Army knife is not enough for the real world, you’ll need a big knife as well.
Why does Rambo carry a big knife???
For these 3 reasons…
This is the absolute number one point (get it… point?) of a large knife… to be used as a weapon. Why? Because security is the number one survival priority after first aid. While a gun is, of course, a far superior weapon than even the largest knife… most of the time… a gun isn’t always practical.
The majority of reasons not to carry a gun are the myriad of legality issues. In some places they are simply illegal to carry. And even if they are… Your gun WILL most likely be confiscated by law enforcement even if you were in fact justified… and because the only purpose of a gun is to kill, the backlash of even justifiably defending yourself by shooting someone can result in many years of hardship including civil lawsuits… and even prison!
Guns attract a lot of unwanted attention, even if they are not fired. The mere sight of a gun causes fear in most people, and this fear causes people to talk about “the guy holding a gun” usually resulting in law enforcement being involved. Besides the fact that gun carry is associated with many legality issues in many places, and guns serve no other purpose than to kill… guns run out of bullets and when they do… then they are only inefficient clubs.
My Dad told me when he was teaching me how to fight when I was a very young boy that I would always win if I had more leverage than the other guy. Simply put, this means keeping the “bad guy” a safe distance away by being able to hit him before he can hit you. It is a combination of reach and speed, and generally speaking, where blades are concerned… bigger is better!
Most petty criminals carry knives. They are quiet and easily concealed. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a knife pulled on you by some scumbag, but I have. More than once in fact. My having a bigger knife has each time acted as deterrent enough to dissolve the conflict before anyone had to bleed.
One time my bigger knife ended a conflict was while I was riding the Greyhound bus of all places! No place for a gun. I was sitting alone on the back seat… when the restroom door opened and a guy stepped out who looked at me and then pulled his little neck knife out of its sheath and pointed it at me and told me to give him my seat. I instinctively reached down to my backpack where I had my Bowie knife… I did not even have to pull it all the way out. The look on his eyes when he saw about 6” or so of the full 11” blade coming out after the big brass hilt of a knife that was designed for winning knife fights… was enough. Seeing the ruthless look on that scumbag’s drugged out face suddenly turn to genuine fear was priceless. He went back into the restroom and did not come back out until the next stop and then he quickly exited the bus and did not get back on!
I am NOT saying you should carry a knife rather than a gun. I am saying you should carry a knife in the stead of a gun… solely, or in addition to… and to think wisely about whether your Swiss Army knife will deter a criminal armed with a 4” inch fixed blade.
The usefulness of a large knife shines further in that the number three survival priority after security and first aid… is shelter. A large knife makes shelter building easy because a large knife is at least as efficient, in skilled hands, at chopping small branches as a hatchet.
Also, a large knife can be used to split logs most people carry an axe to chop through, with a technique called batoning. This requires that the knife blade is longer than the diameter of the log. Batoning is done by setting the knife’s blade against the top of the log and hammering (batoning) the spine of the blade with a stick (a baton) down through the length of the log. Batoning is an art form in and of itself and is very much worth mastering, but that will be the goal of a future article.
3. Prying, Hammering, Digging, Etc.
While a knife should ONLY be used as a prybar, a hammer, or… *I cringe at the thought of dulling and potentially chipping a blade by doing this*… a shovel… IF there are no other options, it can be done quite effectively! Quality large knives are thick enough and strong enough to be used in many useful capacities other than cutting, and many large knives are specifically designed to accommodate the ability to do these things. For example, the Ka-Bar D2 Extreme Fighting/Utility Knife is a made for the military tried and true American classic that won’t let you down if you want a knife that can do it all.
What survival knife do you carry?
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