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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pioneer Tools: The fixed blade

This series of articles is going to talk about what I will call pioneer tools. Everybody has their preferences when it comes to tools I certainly have mine I have been a woodsman most of my life. And I feel that there are a few basic things somebody should have with regards to bare minimum tools. Most all of these could be carried on your body with ease so you would have little risk of losing them.

Fixed Blade Knife

The first will be a proper fixed blade knife. A quality blade carries with it many capabilities such as gutting, skinning and dressing fish or game, crafting tools out of wood or even stone, defensive purposes, digging holes and many other things. As you know blades come in all forms of steel and trying to pick out one from the other can make your head spin. I wouldn’t worry too too much about what steel the blade is made from I would be more concerned about these three things.

  • Quality Control
  • Full Tang
  • Quality of Sheath

Quality Control: Buy a proper brand name knife. Avoid the temptation of what I call gun show specials those cheap fixed blade knives you see in hunting shops that don’t come with a box or a brand name. You want something strong and effective not something that is going to break on you the first time you baton it through a log. Buy cheap. Buy twice.

Full Tang: A full tang basically means the blade and hilt are a single piece of steel which ensures that the blade isn’t going to break away from the hilt as easily. Very simple make sure the blade is a full tang design. When buying online it should say somewhere in the product info that the knife is a full tang.

Quality of Sheath: Polymer, leather and cordura nylon are by far the most standard materials for sheaths I prefer leather or polymer out of personal preference. But as long as the sheath is made from quality materials it will be fine. Look at a sheath similar to looking at a pistol holster buy something durable that is going to work when you need it to.

Carry Method: The carry method for fixed blade knives is most commonly affixed to the belt line. Some people rig up shoulder harnesses, lash the sheath to backpacks and other such things. But nine times out of ten the belt line is where I would carry a blade. And I would not use a standard pants belt. I would personally use some sort of belt capable of bearing weight. This could cost some money but the comfort issue will be worth the extra cash you spend.

Another option would be a pistol belt and belt keepers. These are little loops that attach to your pants belt that you then attach to the pistol belt. Keeping to two together to reduce bouncing and increase comfort.

And finally you could look into suspenders that you can affix to a pistol belt. Similar to the webbing style of load bearing gear used by military forces. This allows you to balance the weight on your shoulders and hips taking stress off of your lower back. However this isnt the most low profile of options.

So first on the kit list a quality fixed blade knife Bill posted a review on a SOG blade not too long ago. Next time we will talk about the axe and hatchet.


  1. Greyman51, it is so refreshing to see a post on what to look for when shopping for a knife rather than an empty review (empty reviews are done by those who just get a knife and "review" it without ever having used it). You can find reviews out there to sway you towards any knife you have your eye on, but after you know what to look for you won't be swayed by marketing hype.

  2. Thanks HaliBoy nice to hear from a fellow Nova Scotian!