Back as a 19,year old marine I coveted my Ka-Bar, but really always wanted an Air Force Survival knife. I just have never really liked a big knife for everyday use. I did buy a Ka-Bar short, but never did I get my Air Force Survival Knife, until my birthday last year, 43 years later.
Today the wife had me rearrange some furniture. In the dresser drawer I was moving I found my Air Force Survival Knife, where I put it after my birthday last year. I thought I might take it out and play with it a while and gather my thoughts.
First, what it is not. It is not a bushcraft knife. It is not a hunting knife. It can certainly do both, but there are better tools for the job. What it is, is a good Jack of all Trades knife. I decided to gather some wood from the lot across the street and build a fire in the fire pit and stew some turnips.
There had been light rain falling off and on for the better part of 2 days. Everything was soaked. I needed to get to the center of some bigger pieces of wood to find some dry stuff. This is a rat tail tang knife. I am not going to be beating on the spine of this knife with anything. But it does have a hammer pommel. It’s supposed to be capable of hammering, so I hammered on it. I drove the point of the blade into the wood then twisted the wood against the blade. It worked well, while proving to be capable of light to moderate levering.
Next to make some feathers. It didn’t like that at all. I did find that if I drove the blade into a log and pulled the wood against the edge it made adequate shavings. What it did do well is scrape. I got some really fine, almost powdery scrapings. Another thing itbdidvwellmwas to strike a fire rod. I figured the saw back would destroy my ferro rod, so I did not try that. Instead there is a sharp edge on the back ,of the blade just behind the tip. It gave me a shower of sparks. My fire is going, now on to the turnips.
Short and sweet. Or maybe bittersweet. It did not much like processing the turnips. When cutting off the root and crown….well it didn’t. It was more akin to splitting. Peeling, or skinning if you will, worked somewhat better. Of course cubing the turnip meat was again splitting. But in the end it did the job, I had my pan full of turnip’s sautéeing in butter.
In review the Air Force Survival knife is exactly what it says it is, a survival knife. It is a one tool Jack of all trades option. It did some stuff well, some not so well. But it did everything asked of it. I am sure it would have had a much easier time preparing meat, or softer vegetables, but turnips were a good test.
Finally a comparison to the Ka-Bar Short is in order. In a lot of ways I like the Ka-Bar Short much better. Then again, I have been using it for over 40 years and am used to it. But in one way, and a big way, the Air Force Survival is much better than the Ka-Bar Short. The Ka- Bar short is basically a scaled down full size Ka-Bar. That includes the handle. The handle of the Ka-Bar has always seemed just a little too small and crowded. The Air Force Survival Knife on the other hand is full,sized. It is a much more comfortable blade to work with.
I believe the Air Force Survival knife has a place, and that place will be in the back of my vehicle with its cousins, the axe and shovel waiting to serve should the need arise.