One thing I have learned over the past few years is that that knives are a highly personal thing and that what suits one person, may not be appropriate for another. Not only that but there are so many types of knives that it would take a lifetime to collect them all.
Think about it. There are knives that are weapons, knives that are tools, knives that are utensils, and even knives that are religious implements. There are everyday carry knives and knives used for sport. And then there are survival knives.
Wikipedia has a good description of the survival knife:
“Survival knives are knives intended for survival purposes in a wilderness environment, often in an emergency situation when the user has lost most of his/her main equipment. Military units issue some type of survival knife to pilots in the event their plane may be shot down. Survival knives can be used for trapping, skinning, wood cutting and other uses. Hunters, hikers, and outdoor sport enthusiasts use survival knives. Some survival knives are heavy-bladed and thick; others are lightweight or fold in order to save weight and bulk as part of a larger survival kit. Their functions often include serving as a hunting knife.
Of course these days, every prepper worth their salt will also consider the survival knife as a backup defensive weapon – something that can be used against man or beast in a life or death confrontation.
Attributes of a Basic Survival Knife
As far as I am concerned, a good survival knife should have some basic attributes, regardless of its price. Here are just a few, in no special order:
- Portable and easily carried on one’s person.
- Easy to use without the need for any complex process to put it in to action.
- The blade should hold a sharp edge and it should be easy to sharpen without the need for cumbersome equipment.
- Should be sturdy and tough so that the blade does not break or bend and the handle does not crack under duress
With this brief introduction, today I am sharing a some thoughts on a a particular type of survival knife, the Aircrew Survival Egress Knife or ASEK. We recently purchased such a knife and it was put through its paces by my very own Survival Husband.
The Ontario ASEK Survival System
This knife system was recommended to me by a friend whom I have a great amount of respect for when it comes to knives, firearms and knowledge of the outdoors. Given that, I went ahead and ordered the Ontario ASEK survival knife. For those of you that are familiar with this type of knife, this particular model was chosen by the Army to be included in the “Air Warrior System”.
The knife has a 5 inch blade with a zinc phosphate finish to inhibit rust which also makes the blade non-reflective. It also has a one piece handle with spear holes. These spear holes allow you to attach the knife to a pole – and thus build a make-shift spear. The knife’s butt plate can be used as a hammer and the pointed tip on the butt cap can score and break glass or even Plexiglas.
The knife system also has a tool which contains an anodized aluminum strap cutter which is in a separate pocket of the scabbard. This strap cutter is designed to cut through a seat belt and is something that emergency responders use daily.
The knife arrived extremely sharp right out of the package and the sheath and strap are nicely made.
The blade itself has a top and a bottom edge with the bottom edge being the knife edge. The knife edge runs 2 1/2 inches from the tip and back where it ends in a small serrated edge. The top of the blade has a heavy saw tooth.
I am very impressed with the construction and comfort while holding the knife. As far as keeping the knife with you, it can be carried on your person in a number of ways, including on your belt or in your pack. It can also be strapped to your body but I did not attempt to try that myself. I choose to carry it strapped to my calf and find it quite comfortable which is saying a lot given its size.
This knife is amazing.
I chopped through a two and half inch branch with out even trying in less than 10 seconds, and probably could have done this faster if I had wanted to try (and if Gaye was not looking over my shoulder telling me to be careful). As I was using it along the trail, I kept thinking that this knife system would do anything I needed out in the wild to help sustain myself if I had to bug-out. Not only that, given how easily it cut through wood, it would surely cut through bone although hopefully I will never need to use it for that purpose.
For now, I plan to take this knife system with me in my car so that in an emergency, I can cut away my seatbelt or break the window glass with its butt plate. Of course I will also take it along with me when I hit the trails for a hike.
In summary, I think my friend under estimated this knife system. Sure he recommended it but he did not pass on its “wow” factor. It surpassed every test I gave it and I would recommend this knife system unconditionally for anyone in need of a good survival knife.
Thank you for letting me share my thoughts about the Ontario ASEK with you!
Shelly, the Survival Husband
The Final Word
There is no such thing as the perfect survival knife since individual needs and budgets may vary. My own experience is somewhat limited but it makes sense that when you are just getting started, talk to friend, read some reviews, then pick a knife and go with it. Use it for awhile and learn what it can do easily and without undue effort. Once your have mastered your first knife, add a second knife to your collection that will add additional usefulness and functionality.
Some other good knives to consider are the following:
And of course, for the budget conscious, you just can not beat the very nice Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife for less than $25.
Whatever you decide, be sure to become familiar with your knife and use it in a wide variety of situations now. Become skilled and proficient while time is on your side.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Spotlight Items: Ontario ASEK-Aircrew Survival Egress Knife (ASEK): This is not the least expensive survival knife out there but it is also not the most expensive. Given that it comes with sheath, the leg strap and the cutting tool, it is actually a pretty decent value for less than $120.
Smith’s PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener: Don’t forget to get this portable knife sharpener to go with your survival knife. A top seller among Backdoor Survival readers.
Bargain Bin: One of the best places to seek out survival gear is the outdoor and camping section of your local sporting goods or hardware store. Here are some basics from Amazon to set you on your way to having the right gear available to do the job without spending a ton of money. Don’t forget a Rothco Pack to carry it all.
Emergency Fire Starter: Hugely popular with my readers, this inexpensive magnesium emergency fire starter will do the job for less than $5.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: At only 2 ounces (in weight), the LifeStraw is suitable for a backpack or bug out bag. It is easy to use and requires no chemicals to remove a minimum of 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria.
Survival Kit Military Style Can Opener: This is a no frills P-51 military surplus can opener. Less than $3 for two.
Rothco 550lb. Type III Nylon Paracord: Pick your poison, color-wise, just be aware that some colors are more expensive than others. What to do with Paracord? Read: 44 Really Cool Uses of Paracord for Survival.
SE 7-Inch Hunting Knife with Fire Starter: Another inexpensive option for a highly rated knife. It has a full-tang stainless-steel tanto blade and includes a green cord-wrapped handle a belt sheath with a Velcro securing strap, and a magnesium alloy fire starter. Less than $10.
Tinder-Quik Fire Tabs: There are times when your DIY fire starting materials may not be available. These fire tabs will fit the bill nicely.
Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete: This is on my bucket list (or shall I say the Survival Husband bucket list). I am still doing some research but this looks like a best in class at the under $40 price point. What is a machete used for? Chopping brush, clearing a campsite, or cutting small branches come to mind. This Kukri measures 17 inches overall with an 11-1/2-inch blade and it comes with a black leather/Cordura combination sheath.
Chainmate Survival Pocket Chain Saw With Pouch: This is a survival chain saw that includes a belt loop pouch. Here is what one of the reviewers said: “This thing EATS wood and weighs nothing!! It takes a little bit of effort but you can chew through a hardwood tree half a foot thick in literally a couple minutes; half that if you use two people (one on each end).”
Cyalume SnapLight Industrial Grade Chemical Light Sticks: You know how I love my light sticks. Keep them in drawers next to the bed, your kitchen junk drawer, your car, your backpack – everywhere. Read: Lighting Your Way With Chemical Lighting.
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A frequent question I get on Backdoor Survival has to do with healthcare matters when there is no doctor around. This is the definite source of survival medical information for all Prepper’s and is my go-to bible for survival medicine.