If you were to ask any outdoorsman, bushcrafter, or survivalist which one item they would choose to take into the forest for an extended period of time they would most likely say a cutting tool…and for good reason. With a reliable cutting tool, one can theoretically produce whatever is needed to not only effect initial survival, but over time live rather comfortably using only what the landscape provides, combined with knowledge, hard work and a good mental attitude.
The beauty of a knife is that, unlike other cutting tools such as axes and machetes, a modest sized knife can be worn comfortably during most outdoor activities, such as horseback riding, canoeing, hunting etc. This allows a knife to be on your side and attached to your person at all times should things not go exactly as planned. That being said, it’s not too hard to imagine a scenario where all other gear is lost or swept downstream, leaving one only with the clothes on their back and what’s attached to their belt. A scenario such as this would immediately turn that folding knife you’ve chosen to open stubborn granola bar wrappers into the survival knife upon which your life now depends. While there is truly no one tool option, a surprising amount of tasks can be accomplished with an outdoor knife that meets certain standards. Such standards and tasks should be taken into account when selecting an outdoor knife.
Behold the SCHF38, one of three knives in Schrade’s 2015 bushcraft series. At first glance, the frontier-style, drop-point blade profile is enough to intrigue bushcrafters and survivalists alike. Upon learning that it’s crafted from 1095 high-carbon steel, the SCHF38 is well deserving of a test drive.
A very important attribute to look for in any outdoor knife is its ability to aid you in creating fire. The sharp 90 degree spine performed well at showering sparks from the included ferro rod. When struck against a piece of flint rock found in a creek bed the SCHF38 consistently yielded plenty of small sparks to ignite charred cloth as well as a variety charred materials such as the pithy center of a mullein stock.
Yielding a blade length of 5.77 inches and a blade width of 0.23 inches, the SCHF38 performs very well with batoning tasks such as felling the medium sized trees often associated with shelter building. While processing firewood, even the heartiest of hardwoods were no match for the hefty blows delivered from a heavy baton stick driving this solid slab of steel through every last knot. After felling a few six-inch-diameter maples and processing two or three oak logs, the saber ground edge of the SCHF38 appeared unaffected although the black coating on the blade had become scuffed. This however did not affect the knife’s ability to produce several beautiful feather stick from some damp poplar branches lying around camp.
The overall length of SCHF38 comes out at 11.15 inches, making it large enough to handle just about any practical task one could face in the wilderness yet manageable to be worn comfortably on the belt all day long. The handle measures 5.38 inches and is dressed in textured TPE scales which sit well in the hand, even when holding the knife in a reverse grip to really chunk out those pesky knots in a bow drill spindle. The SCHF38 features jimping on the top of the spine as well as the underside of the spine where the ring and pinky fingers rest. A hole is located at the back of the knife for attaching your favorite paracord lanyard or pace counting beads.
The SCHF38 arrives with an impressively sharp factory edge holstered in a nylon sheath. The sheath itself features a Velcro loop that allows it to be equipped or removed from a belt without having to remove the belt itself. A retention strap hold the SCHF38 securely in place for peace of mind as the expandable pouch on the front of the sheath arrives outfitted with its very own ferro rod and diamond sharpening stone.
One last but often important factor to consider when purchasing any new outdoor knife is cost. At a listed price of $42.50, Schrade has clearly answered the call from woodsman of all genres and produced a very capable yet affordable full-tang knife that gets the job done… without breaking the bank!
Manufacturer: Schrade Knives
Overall Length: 11.15 inches
Weight: 13.4 ounces
Blade Length: 5.77 Inches
Knife Thickness: 0.23 Inches
Handle Length: 5.38 Inches
Handle Material: TPE
Steel: 1095 High Carbon
Blade Design: Frontier-style drop-point
Blade Grind: Saber
Sheath Material: Nylon
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the March 2015 print issue of American Survival Guide.