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Category Archives: My thoughts on knives

Survival Hatchet or Survival Knife – Which Is Better?

Okay, I’m going to come clean. I get a huge laugh out of many of the so called ‘Survival Knife Reviews’ on YouTube. I watch a lot of these and realize that the person doing the review has probably never, or very rarely, used a knife in either a Camping, backpacking or Survival situation. Well, that’s not fair, most of us have never been in a true survival situation where we had to depend on our blades for our life. But in reality, most of us who buy survival knives do so to take them camping with us or out hiking around the woods.


But a lot of these survival knife reviews are just utterly ridiculous and really shows how naive some so called knife experts really are. I also see the question of “Which is better, a survival hatchet or survival knife?”


Let’s take the debate about whether or not one should carry a survival hatchet on a hiking/camping/backpacking trip or a survival knife. I could make this debate very short and simply point out the fact that the best survival knife out there isn’t as good as the cheapest hatchet. Period. End of debate.


But, that would be very boring wouldn’t it, although it is true. I have a Fallkniven H1. (which I’ll get around to doing a review on one of these days) This knife is considered by many to be the best survival knife known to man. I’ll beg to differ, but that’s a conversation for a later time. Would I trade my $20 1 3/4 pound head hatchet for the Fallkniven in a survival situation. Hell no!


Uses of a survival hatchet


I get a kick out of all the reviewers who think batoning is the true test of a survival knife. It just isn’t so and the reason you see so many doing it is because there isn’t many other things you can do in a knife review (realistically) that is attention grabbing. For those who don’t know what batoning is, it’s basically splitting wood. And except for the smallest saplings, a hatchet will do the job much better and quicker than a survival knife!


How about cutting trees down? George Washington didn’t use a long survival knife to chop the Cherry tree down, he used a hatchet! A survival knife may be quicker on saplings up to a 1/2 inch, anything above that and a hatchet will be quicker and safer.


The same goes for pounding stakes into the ground. Yeah, you can do it with a survival knife and rock, but a hatchet will get the job done quicker and safer.


In fact, other than cutting cordage, small limbs or other things of that sort, there’s not much a survival knife can do that a hatchet can’t do better.


What about defense?


Well, if you’re asking me which one I would choose if backed into a corner, a survival hatchet or a big knife, I think either one would suffice just fine. Remember, there was a reason that the Indians and Frontiersmen chose to carry tomahawks. That compact steel head of the hatchet can do a lot more damage that a single knife. In fact, the mass weight of the hatchet head that causes it to be better than a knife at chopping also makes it a formidable weapon!


But having the slicing and jabbing ability makes a large knife as equal as a hatchet in the self defense role. But in reality, if I am cornered, I’ll have a surprise for the attackers that do not include a knife or hatchet

Does this mean I leave my knives at home when I go camping or hiking. Of course not. I’d sooner leave my pack at home! But depending on where I plan on going and how long I plan on staying out, it’s a good chances that you’ll find me with a hatchet.


Knife vs. Hatchet verdict


Don’t take this article the wrong way either. I love my knives. I love the outdoors. But the older I get, the less sensationalism I need in the outdoors. I just want to get the damn wood cut. And the fastest and safest way to do that, is with a hatchet. Unless you have a pocket chainsaw handy!


I’m sure this will not end the ‘Which is better, a hatchet or survival knife’ debate, but hopefully you’ll stand back and have a honest look at carrying a hatchet.

SOG Jungle Primitive Review

I have to admit it, I bought the F03T-N SOG Jungle Primitive because it looked like one bad ass survival knife. But deep down I knew, something this cheap would not be a top of the line performer in a survival setting. Was I right or was I wrong? Well my good friend, keep reading!


Once I had the SOG JP in my hand, I knew I had to take it out immediately and do an impromptu SOG Jungle Primitive Review with it. Since I live in the boonies so to speak, it was rather easy to find stuff to test out the SOG on.

First off, when I received the knife, I opened it and looked it over good. Just as any of you would. I then rolled it around in my hand getting a feel for it. I liked the heft of the knife and unlike other reviewers I’ve read, I actually like the weight forward feel of the knife. I also like the handle. Even when wet, I had no trouble holding onto the knife. Even when I tried it wearing heavy leather gloves, this knife was a cinch to hold onto.



SOG Jungle Primitive Field Test

One of the things that I didn’t care for right off the bat was that this knife came right out of the box dull. That really chaps my backside! It wasn’t butter knife dull, but it sure as heck was not razor sharp! So I had to spend some time with my Razors Edge sharpening stones and in no time, I had a good edge on it.


Just a note to those of you who sharpen your own knives. I know a lot of people like very shallow grinds on their knives. Many will say a 20 ro 22 degree bevel is the “perfect” angle to sharpen a knife. Well, if we were talking about Kitchen knives or hunting knives, I might agree. But with a Survival Knife, I want an angle greater than that. A higher angle will not dull as quickly and performs chopping or heavy duty cutting chores better without dulling as quick.


Now, back to my SOG Jungle Primitive Review.


I had a bunch of sucker saplings coming up around a tree in my yard. I decided this is where I’d start with the field test. The Jungle Primitive did an okay job of whacking those suckers down. Not as good as if I’d had an axe or hatchet, but then again this knife isn’t as heavy as either one of those.


I stopped by several Maple trees that also had some suckers and finished those off as well. One thing I was beginning to see is that this Survival Knife is a little light for chopping work. The weight forward design did help a little, but overall it took a lot of effort to cut through a pile of sucker saplings.


In a survival situation, you’d be using a lot of calories trying to hack enough fuel for a fire or saplings and limbs for a shelter. Maybe too many depending on where you were and the time of year.

Next, I have a decent sized dead Elm in the back yard that I’ve been cutting on for a few days and I decided to try the Jungle Primitive out on it to see how the saw on the back of the knife worked. I also wanted to chop on something a little beefier than a sapling.


To my amazement, the saw teeth did a pretty good job. The only problem is that there should have been more of them! It will take you a while to saw through anything substantial due to the short length of saw teeth on the back.

The chopping experiment went about the same on the dead Elm as it did on the green samplings. A lot of work for a little effort!


After hacking on the saplings and then on the dead Elm (which is pretty hard when seasoned), the knife was beginning to dull again. There were a few more things I wanted to try, so I went to the wood pile for my next test. To see how well the knife threw.

Needless to say, the weight forward design really messes up the balance of the knife. It took many tries at 15 feet to get the feel of the knife and even then, success was not guaranteed! Let’s just say this knife isn’t going to be your friend if you get into a knife throwing competition!


What’s The Best Use For A SOG Jungle Primitive Knife?


While I wouldn’t turn my nose up at this knife if I found myself in the middle of the Wilderness with nothing else to rely on. But having said that, I don’t see this knife as a hard core survival knife. It would be a welcomed addition to any Wilderness camping trip as it can do many chores effortlessly. But as a stand alone hard core survival knives, there are many more choices on the market that are better.

I have to say that the sheath was one of my favorite things about this knife. Everything worked the way it should (meaning the snap straps were not 1/8 inch too short). The sheath has a pocket that can be used to hold small objects. I would find a good quality honing stone and put it in there. If you use the knife a lot you’re going to need it!

If you need a throw around knife, you know, those you keep in your fishing or camping bag, then this knife is just the ticket. It’s inexpensive if you loose it but still sturdy enough and useful enough to get most of those outdoor jobs done.


SOG Jungle Primitive Specifications


Okay, I saved the specs for last for you anal types!

Blade: 9.5 inch long stainless steel blade with a black oxide finish. Saw teeth along the back with a small serrated section near the base of the blade.

Handle: Molded Kraton. I found this handle to perform well in my bare hands and with heavy gloves on.

What comes in the box: The F03T-N Jungle Primitive knife and nylon sheath.

Overall length: 15.3 inches

Weight: 14 ounces


Best Prices on the SOG Jungle Primitive Knife

I did a little shopping online to find the best deal on the Jungle Primitive Knife and this is what I found.  It’s cheapest at  It’s even cheaper when you use a blade hq coupon – found at this link.


Buck Paklite Skinner Review

Hey Guys and Gals. I found this Buck Paklite Skinner at Wally World recently and thought I take it for a spin. I’m not a big fan of all metal minimalist designed knives, which is one reason I almost passed this knife up. But I figured for a $20 bill I could find some use for it, even if it was only to throw in my boat or glove box of my pickup.

Once I got it home and out of the bubble package, which is a freakin’ chore, one which you need a bigger knife for, my first impression of this knife was “flimsy”. Although it doesn’t bend obviously, it just ‘felt’ flimsy. Possibly because of it’s ultra lightweight, I dunno.

Next, I noticed that the Buck Paklite Skinner didn’t fit my hand very well. Certainly not as well as I would have liked. If the handle had only been an inch longer, it may not have felt so small and flimsy in my hand.

Two of the biggest benefits I can find about this knife is that, number 1, it’s made in the U.S.A. Number 2, it comes out of the package razor sharp!

This knife is made of 420HC steel, which if you know Buck Knives you know that this steel is what they make most of their knives out of. It’s an older type steel and while it may not be the hardest knife steel on the market today, it has a proven track record of dependable performance. It’s also not so hard as to make it difficult to put an edge on Buck knives either.

The Buck Paklite would make a great Small Game knife. I could see it being perfect for Squirrels and Rabbits as well as for skinning fur bearing animals. It would do an okay job at skinning big game, but you’ll probably want to choke up on the knife to give yourself a little better blade control.

This knife comes with a nylon sheath with a plastic insert to keep you from cutting the sheath to pieces everytime you sheath the knife or take it out.

While this isn’t a knife that I’d carry as a main knife, even if I was small game hunting or day hiking, it is one I’d throw in my pack for a backup. It’s so lightweight, you’d never know it’s there. The knife will hold an edge well and you’ll be able to sharpen it rather easy. Maybe you’ll find use for one of the many cutouts in the knife. The only thing I see is that the hole in the butt would make a great place to tie on some para cord.

If you’re looking for a knife that you won’t lose sleep over if you lose it or it walks off, try the Buck Paklite Skinner. I think you’ll find it handy if you do have to use it and lightweight enough that it doesn’t remind you that its there.

The Buck Pilot Knife Review

I mulled over the decision on whether or not to put the Buck Pilot in  Survival Knife Reviews. For no other than it’s size. And it’s for this reason I finally decided to put it in the review after all. For the sake of this argument, size alone should not be the sole defining factor of describing a survival knife! Although the Buck Pilot is a small folding knife, it has qualities that any survival knife needs in order to be successful.

Up front, one of the things I don’t like about the Buck Pilot is that it’s made in China. I was surprised as anyone when Buck started outsourcing the manufacturing of some knife designs. It will take some time to see if the quality of the Chinese knives are as good as the ones made here in the U.S.A.

I’ve seen some Buck Pilot knife reviews that say Buck would not put their name on something that wasn’t a quality product. I’ve heard that same arguement from other companies when they outsource their products overseas and for many of them, the quality suffers. We’ll just have to wait and see if this is the case with Buck knives.

The Buck Pilot is a folding knife. The blade is stainless steel with a drop point. I found that the knife opened easily and I could do it with one hand. I also liked the stainless steel clip on the knife. This allows it to be clipped either inside your pocket or on the outside. You could even just clip it to your belt if you liked.This clip also helps stabilize the knife should you have to lash it to a stick for a longer reach or use as a spear.

I bought the Buck Pilot that has a partial serrated edge. The serration on this knife are sharp and easily cut through hard plastic sheeting, leather, rubber hose and saplings. This knife got dull rather quick in my opinion. But of course I was cutting everything under the Sun this day. If you’ve ever had a Buck knife, then you know some can be very hard to sharpen. This is especially true for the ones made here in the U.S.

It only took a few strokes on a ceramic stick to get the Pilot back to razor sharpness. I would imagine that under normal use, the knife would remain sharp for a long time.

I didn’t put this knife through any torture test such as batoning or using as a spear or putting it in a vise and seeing how far it would bend. To me, a lot of this is pure nonsense and only used for the drama crowd. Yeah, even batoning! If I need some split wood, I carry a hatchet or a heavy machete like a Woodsman’s Pal.

I suppose I might regret not carrying a huge bowie type survival knife if a plane I was on crashed deep in the forest and no one knew it went down. Of course, with my luck, the baggage that my knife was in would have probably been thrown on another flight!

The test I did perform with the Buck Pilot knife consisted of cutting normal (somewhat) stuff like saplings, cane, leather, plastic sheets and heavy cardboard. It handled everything pretty well.

But the real test is that I’ve been carrying it around for over a month in the woods. I’ve taken it exploring, camping, fishing and small game hunting. I’ve grown use to having this knife clipped inside my right pocket and it’s always at the ready.

I found that the folding knife mechanism keeps working well even after hard use. This knife has folded easily even when wet and dirty. That’s something I can’t say for some other folding type knives I’ve used over the years.

Overall, the knife has been pretty good. I’m a little amazed that a $20 knife has stood up to the things I put it through. On the downside, since I use a knife more than the average Joe, I have to sharpen it more than some of my other knives I’ve used for daily carry. Since I enjoy sharpening knives, it isn’t a big deal but for those who don’t know how or don’t care to do it, it could become a pain real quick.

Hey, if nothing else this knife is worth $20. I doubt you’ll find a better knife for the money…with the possible exception being the Mora knife. Buy one and throw in the glove box or tackle box. If you need a knife and don’t have your favorite survival knife handy, the Buck Pilot knife could be your saving grace!

Gerber Prodigy Survival Combat Knife Review

Although Gerber calls this a Survival/Combat knife, I believe that title has more to do with marketing than with what this knife really is, which is a survival knife. If you really wanted to get down to the nitty gritty, any knife can be classified as a “combat knife”. Anyhow, I chose the Gerber Prodigy Survival Knife as my first survival knife review. I have a couple of these and they are like a Timex. They take a beating and keep on going (notice how I avoided using the Timex trademarked phrase? LOL)

The Gerber Prodigy in the picture is the most recent purchase of this model. I found it, along with some other knives, listed in the Classified section of my local paper. I picked them all up for a song!

The Prodigy is another one of Jeff Freeman’s design. I call it the little brother to the Gerber LMF knives, because basically they’re a scaled down version of the larger knives.

The Gerber Prodigy Survival Combat Knife is MIRS (Military Integration Resource System) Compliant. The sheath is also MOLLE compatible. The nylon sheath comes with a leg strap with buckle plus additional straps for securing it in many different configurations. The actual part of the sheath that protects the blade secures to the Nylon via two screws and a strap at the bottom of the hard plastic sheath as well as two hook and loop straps that wrap through and around the hard plastic section. One feature that I love about the sheath is the friction release thumb lock. This keeps the knife in the sheath nice and secure.  One major complaint that I have is that the hard plastic sheath does not have a drain hole! At least I couldn’t see one and I find this alarming that it would be overlooked.

There was a time when I hated serrated knives. It was my belief that any knife with any serration was a cheap knife and the only reason for the serration was because the manufacturer used cheap steel and the knife wouldn’t hold an edge.

How times have changed! I now lean toward knives with serrated edges. And not only on my Survival knives, but my hunting knives and every day carry knives as well. A good quality knife with high quality steel increases it’s effectiveness when they are serrated!

The Gerber Prodigy Survival Knife is no exception. This would be a great knife even without any serrated edges. But about the first half of this knife has a meaty serrated edge. It’s sharp folks! I’ve hacked through sheets of tin, green tree limbs, seasoned lumber as well as many other materials with my other Gerber Prodigy’s and they’ve all performed very well. I can tell you that it takes quite a bit to dull the serrated edges of this knife.

Serrated edges are a must on Survival Knives in my opinion. As I stated above, a serrated edge just increases the effectiveness of a good knife. The options for what you can cut and hack with such a knife in a survival situation just jumps tremendously when your survival knife has a serrated edge.

The Gerber Prodigy has a black oxide coating for corrosion protection. It also dampens any shine that could give a person away in a combat situation. The days of mirrored finishes are over for good combat knives!

Moving right along, the blade of the Prodigy is 4 3/4 inches long, with the knife being 9 3/4 inches overall. The handle is a molded soft grip handle. I must say, this handle fits my rather large hands perfectly. It’s not too big or too small. More importantly, I can hold onto it while working with the knife. It doesn’t matter if I’m digging, hacking, cutting, sawing or whacking, I can keep a firm grasp on this knife. The end of the handle comes to a pointed end with a steel tip. You can add a lanyard onto the handle at this area, although I don’t know why you would, or use it for puncturing sheet metal or breaking glass in an emergency. If you choose to break glass with this bad boy, I sure you have have some thick leather gloves on. The steel tip on this knife is not as prominent as it is on the LMF series.

Another thing that I dearly loved was that the blade come out of the box hair shaving sharp! That’s a huge plus in my book. It tells me that the manufacturer cares enough about their knives and the Customers who buy them to put a sharp edge on them. I don’t care who the manufacturer is, if I get one of their new knives and it’s dull, I just feel the knife was cheaply made.

There’s not much about the Gerber Prodigy survival knife that I would change. It’s a great survival knife and I carry one on most of my camping trips. If I plan on being out longer than a few days, then you’ll probably find me carrying the Gerber LMF II.

As stated earlier, I don’t consider this a Combat Knife, although it will do very well in that situation. I believe if you’re wanting a knife strictly for tactical or combat purposes, there are better choices out there. But for survival, you’ll be hard pressed to find another knife and sheath combination that will beat the Gerber Prodigy Survival Combat Knife.