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Survival Knife: Fine Edge vs. Combo Edge

Discussion in 'Knives' started by Rfd62106, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. Rfd62106

    Rfd62106 Loaded Pockets

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    Ok, so Im sure this has likely been discussed previously, but i've got my sights set on a survival knife. I know which one i want and im not changing my mind. However, it is available in both a fine edge and a combo (fine and serrated) edge. The combo is 50% fine 50% serrated. The serrated is at the bottom near the handle.

    I've read just about every survival article, blog, tips, etc that is available on the web and all of them say the same 2 things; 1)"Depends on what you want the knife to do" and 2) "its a matter of personal preference". I agree that #2 is definately a factor and will likely drive the bulk of the replies that i get from this. However, my beef is with #1. If i was talking about an EDC fixed blade or a bush knife, etc, then yes, it depends. But im talking about a survival knife. A knife you are lucky enough to have had the foresight to pack or bring along before you headed out becuase of the potential for a situation. So my answer to #1 is that i want the knife to help me survive. This means it needs to perform the tasks that both knives excel at becuase i dont know what my situation will be and what i will need it to do over all. Is that like uber generic, yes; obvious; yes again; how that affect which knife i purchase, no so much.

    There are pro's and con's to both blade styles and i suspect that most of us are aware of what they are. Having said that, im asking for advice on which blade type to get. I dont want to debate over what knife brand is better than the next, what type of steel is better, or which make and model you like to carry. Thats all for another exciting thread. I already know which one i want. Im just asking for the advice of my forum friends to help me decide blade style . Hope you understand my intention of trying to focus the conversation here.

    Some pertinent details that may help narrow it down...
    I'm in New York, so no desert or rainforest survival situations for me. Likely exposures to a potential situation would be from a hunting/camping trip gone wrong in a northeast woodsey/forest setting. Weather is plenty hot in the summer and plenty cold with the potential for ice/snow in the winter. Im not a survival expert, but i am an experienced camper, but only a novice hunter; also a former boyscout who still has a love for being in the woods . Also you shold kow that the combo is 50% fine and 50% serrated. The serrated portion is at the bottom near the handle.

    So any thoughts?
     
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  2. elkhills

    elkhills Loaded Pockets

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    Here are 3 of my "survival" knives. My guess is your talking about something like the smaller one on the top?
    [​IMG]

    After using them all I think I've come to prefer a combo blade. It will cut more aggressively when you want it to, like cutting a thick hank of rope for example, but still skin a critter with the sharp smooth edged half.

    Its like the difference between cutting your food with a steak knife and a paring knife, they'll both work, but work better for their specific tasks.


    edited for cuz bad grammer.
     
    Last edited by elkhills, Jan 17, 2013
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  3. Here Comes The BOOM

    Here Comes The BOOM EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    I'm curious about this myself as well. From what I've understood so far serrations are mostly a benefit when cutting rope, but I haven't heard of any other real benefits. Since I don't cut a lot of rope I've been staying away from serrated blades up to now. Another reason is that I don't have the tools to sharpen them & I wouldn't want to carry more then one sharpening tool preferably.

    But, if anyone can make a strong argument to have one I'd love to read it.
     
  4. Quixotica

    Quixotica Loaded Pockets

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    The good part about serrated is that they keep an edge a heckuva lot longer than a straight blade. They use a couple of dozen small cutting surfaces instead of one long one, so cutting doesn't dull the edges nearly as much, and even when they do get a bit dull, it can still rip through things better than a dull plain edge.

    I personally prefer a plain edge, but for a survival knife, I would definitely go with a combo edge, just so that I can use the serrations to rip through tough things for a lot longer, and save the plain edge for the more delicate tasks. Granted, I'm not a huge huge knife guy, but that'd be my logic behind it.
     
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  5. Zookie

    Zookie Loaded Pockets

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    Get a fixed blade with a plain edge, and then buy a spyderco folder with full serrations. Or buy a folding saw.
     
  6. Quixotica

    Quixotica Loaded Pockets

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    He's already picked out the knife. It's a question of which blade edge he wants for it. :)
     
  7. MOD-u-LAR

    MOD-u-LAR Loaded Pockets

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    How large is the knife your considering? If it's on the smaller side I'd go with the combo. Larger I'd stick with the plain blade. The reason being that with a small(er) knife you get all the goodness that our windmill chasing friend talked about, longer lasting edge, more cutting power, etc. With a larger knife the serrations will be problematic when baton-ing. Also, with the serrations at the base of the knife you lose finesse when cutting(I guess that applies to both small and large, but is more pronounced with a larger blade) since you will have to use the tip of the knife instead of being able to choke up on the blade and work with the area of blade closest to your hand. I wonder why no one makes a blade with the serrations on the tip? Anyway that's my two cents.
     
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  8. J_C
    • The Omnia Paratus

    J_C Loaded Pockets

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    I'm not knowledgeable about survival requirements for knives, so don't take my word for anything, these are just my thoughts on the matter.

    For genuine survival (i.e., not dying due to starvation or exposure in the woods until help can arrive) versus bushcraft (living in the woods temporarily and voluntarily and using tools to live off the land as an adventure), then your concerns would be not drowning, not bleeding to death, not freezing to death, not dying of thirst or hunger. Things that would seem to take priority would be, in order of precedence (more or less): emergency first aid (self and others), creating shelter from the elements, building a fire or other methods for keeping warm, acquiring drinkable water, signaling your location to searchers, and acquiring food (if you're lost for a long time).

    If you're talking about "last man alive after some unnamed apocalypse" then I can't really provide any advice, I plan to die with the other 6.9 billion.

    I'd think that having serrations near the tang would help you in sawing through things to some extent while still leaving you some slicing area in the front for tasks like carving and skinning. I would think it would reduce the efficiency in using the knife for chopping or batonning (hammering on the back of the blade to cut through/split wood).

    So if you think that creating a shelter and starting a fire would require more sawing of wood than chopping / splitting of wood in your normal hiking/camping areas, then I'd opt for the half-serrated edge. If not, then go full plainedge

    If it were ME and I really wanted a serrated edge of some kind, I'd go with the suggestion Zookie made of carrying a good sturdy fixed-blade plain edged knife as the primary, and carry a second lightweight folding fully-serrated kinfe like a Spyderco Salt for those sawing-type tasks that the big knife wouldn't work for.
     
  9. tchad78

    tchad78 Empty Pockets

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    I'm with the straight edge consensus. I also say carry another knife, or better yet a nice multitool if your edc can fit it in.

    Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk 2
     
  10. Rfd62106

    Rfd62106 Loaded Pockets

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    The knife is 10" overall with a blade just under 5". Not a huge knife by any means, but not a folder either. So i wolud have 2.5" of serrated and 2.5 of fine edge. BTW - They do make the reversed with the serrated at the tip, just not in my preferred knife. It looks funny. The last one i used was hard to get used to having to change everything that is instinctive about holding and using a knife.

    You touched on what i get most hung up on. Im not going to be taking down an oak tree with this thing, but some light sawing (for numerous survival tasks) would be an option i would want the ability to do. However batoning is also something i would want the ability to do. You can still baton with a combo edge, but not as effectively and you can ruin serrations, rendering 50% of the knife unusable. So whats a guy to do? I was waiting for the carry both comment to come around, but im really looking for the single best solution provided by one knife. In reality, theres a good chance i would have a camping saw stowed in my gear, but we arent talking only about camping gone bad.

    And no, im not worried about the zombie apocolypse. Im talking about broke down while 4 wheeling miles from the nearest road with traffic, or lost while hunting/hiking, etc.
     
  11. Rfd62106

    Rfd62106 Loaded Pockets

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    Its tough, i know, i have been pondering this for 6 months...i want the single best option in regards to blade style for the one survival knife i would have with me.
     
  12. MangeD700
    • The Omnia Paratus

    MangeD700 EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Get the strongest blade, werther is serrated or not you dont want it to fail when u only got one knife.
     
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  13. batteur
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner
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    batteur Loaded Pockets

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    I’d buy the fine edge version, and then get a small serrated one. I’m thinking about buying a Böker Rescom, since my only serrated blade so far is on my Vic Spirit. This should do the job on fibrous materials and ropes.
    If only one knife and if in the woods, how many fibrous materials do you expect? For me it would still be fine edge.
     
  14. shmook

    shmook Loaded Pockets

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    Don't bother with the combo edge. It gets in the way when doing any fine work, and will basically just annoy you, especially as your whole blade is only 5"ish. It doesn't leave a lot of plain cutting edge, which you will use way more.

    Or, buy the combo and try it. If its not for you, you could sell it on. Which I think you will!

    Just my opinion :)
     
  15. JPHing

    JPHing Loaded Pockets

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    I think it does depend on what you want do the most.

    eg:
    A combo as said, will be good for rope but (imo) awkward for shapening a stick for a tent peg.

    I also prefer the fine edge

    Sent using Tapatalk
     
  16. AcerCulter

    AcerCulter Loaded Pockets

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    The best thing to do is just go out and practice with both types of edges (with two cheapo blades). Get the hang of using each and then decide. Moras aren't that expensive. Neither are Gerber fixed blades. Sure they aren't as tough as ESEE, Busses, yadda-yadda, etc, but you need to get over the hump of actually using the knives before you decide to drop a ton of money on something that might be more reliable.

    In all honesty, you can do more with a non-serrated edge than you can with a serrated edge. The serrated edge is better for certain things (such as rope), but you lose a lot of fine cutting ability near the handles where the serrations start (that's why decent sailors knives have serrations at the tip rather start at the plunge).

    Toughness means nothing unless you actually know what you're doing. Someone trained can do more with a $10 Mora than some bloke with a $300 custom.
     
  17. batteur
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner
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    batteur Loaded Pockets

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    I know of at least one half-custom maker who does this: Norbert Leitner of 69° Nord Knives. For example his Canero can, among other options, be ordered with “Piranha Bite”.
     
  18. AcerCulter

    AcerCulter Loaded Pockets

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    A.G. Russell SeaMaster also has serrations from the tip.
     
  19. MOD-u-LAR

    MOD-u-LAR Loaded Pockets

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    I would go with the plain-jane blade then, Rfd. Anything your going to "saw" with 2.5" of blade will be easy enough to chop down with 5" of regular blade. Then you can still baton and can sharpen the whole blade with ease. And depending on the knife your getting it should be a relatively easy task to attach a survival wire saw(check out CountyComm, they have one for 7$) to the sheath, if not the knife itself. I think it would function better than your tiny saw blade. I don't know which knife your talking about, but even if you have to spend a little extra for a new sheath with a tiny pouch for your wire saw I think you'll be happier overall with the knife itself. Plus, and this is something I just realized even though I've been EDC-ing a knife since I was seven, having/taking control of your sheath can/will change your whole perspective on the knife that goes in it. Take control of the way you carry and you'll be a much happier EDC-er. Good luck. And unless it's a secret what knife are you considering?
     
  20. lefty81

    lefty81 Loaded Pockets

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    It seems that the major plus to serrations is cutting rope, which i am sure would come in handy initially while setting up shelter, after that point i don't see much use. For me when sawing/cutting through wood i found the serrations to be more of a hinderance, not to mention that in a survival situation you want to keep your knife sharp for when you really need it, so cutting wood is better left to a folding saw. There is also a nice saw set up where you essentially have a chunk of band saw blade that you can use to make a hand saw out of three pieces of wood. But i digress, IMO the plain edge is the way to go.