If you had to choose between a survival axe and a survival knife, which one makes it into your hiking bag?
This question that has dogged survivalists and outdoor specialists ever since spears went out of fashion and bears started stealing picnic baskets.
Let’s look at a couple key factors and see what conclusions we can come to.
In survival circumstances, it is important to conserve energy, and weight kills. Even the smallest survival axe is going to outweigh a survival knife any day. This also applies to fatigue caused by use. Swing an axe for a while and you’ll be breathing heavy. Nobody gets winded with knife work.
That should seal the deal and give the point to the knife, but as I said, weight kills. And if killing is what you want to do, I don’t think a knife can top a survival axe’s ability to cleave or smash a target, which it couldn’t do nearly as effectively if it lost a few pounds.
Ease of Carry: Survival Axe
Even with it’s added heft, the survival axe has one major advantage: its shape. Obviously, if either weapon were carried in a sheath strung onto a belt, the advantage goes to the survival knife, simply for it’s lack of weight. But sans sheath, there’s only one relatively safe place to carry a knife, and that’s in your hand.
With survival axe, it’s a little different. It can be tucked into a belt with little risk of slicing your abdomen like a ripe tomato. Plus, because the head is offset from the handle, it’ll stay put tucked into a belt, a strap on your leg, or your trusty old backpack. For these reasons, I think the axe just edges out the competition.
Durability: Survival Axe
In matters how durable a tool is under survival circumstances, and even the best survival knives take a massive blow in this category. Sure, you can use the butt of your Mora to smash on things, but not in the same way you can with a survival axe. It’s basically a weighted club with a cutty part. It’s going to stand up to the abuse.
Versatility: Survival Knife
The ability of a tool to adapt to the need of its holder is a big factor. The more a survival tool can do the more essential it is to keeping you alive, which is the goal, after all. The survival knife can be used to do a lot of things, even though it has its limitations. Some of the functions a survival knife can do are skinning and cleaning game, making other tools (it’s a tool force multiplier), and for shelter making. Its limitations come in heavy duty application.
Survival axes hit their stride when chopping and smashing. While you can field dress a deer or carve some decent snares, its brutish nature must bow to the elegance and grace of the knife.
It is worth noting that a survival knife’s edge could be serrated, effectively turning it into a saw, which only compounds it’s versatility. Serrated axe? Not really a thing, now are they?
The Winner: Survival Axe
As much as there are clear strengths and weaknesses of the survival axe and the survival knife, it is important to note that each is important and it all boils down to the needs of the survivor to say for sure which is better.
Really, to me having a sharp-edged hammer just seems like it has more possibilities for helpfulness if I find myself in less than ideal situations. Don’t agree? Let me hear about it.