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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.

The saber grind of the blade is a great choice for a variety of tough tasks this knife was designed for.

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.

The pommel end of the tang is a great place to attach a paracord lanyard to keep your knife from slipping out of your hand at inopportune moments.

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.

The blade is made from 1095 high-carbon steel and is powdercoated for protection from rust.

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.

Additional jimping toward the pommel of the knife helps your pinky and ring fingers in place.

The handle scales are made from thermoplastic elastomer rubber with a series of interlaced swirls that provide a sure grip, especially in a wet environment.

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.

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The exposed spine of the tang is designed to receive a fair amount of abuse during use while protecting the handle.

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.

The nylon sheath has a plastic insert to keep the blade from cutting the sheath material.

Two buttonholes at the bottom allow for a leg strap or for an additional length of paracord.

Our hats are off to Schrade for actually supplying the knife with a diamond sharpener and a ferro rod instead of an empty pouch for the customer to fill.

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!

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Schrade Knives

Model: SCHF38

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

MSRP: $42.50

 

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the March 2015 print issue of American Survival Guide.