A good survival knife serves a number of purposes, including carving, skinning and food prep. While these are more “everyday” uses, you might find yourself in survival situations where you need to start a fire…without tinder or firewood. If that’s the case, you’ll probably be chopping wood (or batoning).
Before we get into more details on what to look for in a survival knife for chopping wood, here is out top overall pick and top budget pick.
ESEE 6 Fixed Blade Knife
- Blade Material: 1095 Carbon Steel
- Handle Material: Micarta
- Sheath: Molded Polymer with Clip Plate
The ESEE 6 has been a mainstay for true survivalists and true knife enthusiasts for good reason: it’s a knife that performs.
When you are looking for a knife that can handle batoning and bushcraft, you want to know that it has actually been field tested. The ESEE is renowned for being field tested by Military SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, and escape instructors).
The ESEE 6 comes with a full tang construction. The steel blade is 6.5 inches while the knife itself is 11 inches, which is more than enough for batoning and chopping through a piece of wood. The question is, can it handle the grind off batoning? Well at 3/16″ thick with 1095 high carbon steel, the answer is a resounding yes.
The Micarta handle is also known to be durable with a fantastic grip. The handle also comes with a lanyard hole that can improve your grip when chopping wood.
With all these characteristics, when it comes to batoning, you can’t do much better than the ESEE 6.
Our Budget Pick
Schrade SCHF36 Frontier
- DIMENSIONS: 10.4 inch (26.4 cm) overall length with a blade length of 5...
- DURABLE: Blade is made of reliable 1095 Powder Coated High Carbon S.S....
- DEPENDABLE: Quick and easy access with the convenient polyester belt sheath...
- SECURE: Have confidence that the blade will not slip with the security of...
- BE PREPARED: Knife features a ferro rod, sharpening stone and a lanyard...
The Schrade SCHF36 Frontier is our pick for budget survival knife for chopping wood. It features a full tang design with a blade length of 5 inches with a fairly thick spine of about 0.25 inches. The blade itself is made of 1095 high carbon steel, which is a steel blade that is easy to sharpen. Luckily, the Schrade SCHF36 comes with a sharpening pad (and a ferro rod).
One of the features we like about this bushcraft knife for chopping is its weight. At just under a pound, this is a thick and formidable knife for batoning.
As for the handle, it is composed of ring textured thermoplastic elastomer. Frankly, the handle leaves a lot to be desired and is not the most comfortable. But then again, at this price you won’t find better value.
Now that we’ve given you our top pick and top budget pick, let’s discuss what batoning is and what we are looking for in a survival knife for chopping wood. Then we’ll round out our list with other great knives for batoning and chopping wood.
What is batoning?
Batoning is the technique of cutting or splitting wood by using a stick or mallet to strike the spine of your survival knife. The purpose is usually to get dry firewood, and is especially useful in wet environments.
While there is a little bit of controversy whether a survival knife should be used for batoning wood, the fact is you might have no other choice. While an axe or hatchet will be superior n chopping wood, it is less common to carry around an axe or hatchet in either your tactical belt or EDC bag.
And as a well-trained survivalist with a wide range of bushcrafting skills, batoning is simply one of the skills you should add to your toolkit.
What to Look for in a Survival Knife for Chopping Wood
If you know you will be chopping wood with your survival knife, you definitely need to plan accordingly. Your knife will need to handle the wear and tear and take a beating.
If you are only carrying one survival knife, you certainly don’t want to risk permanently damaging the knife. At the end of the day, chopping wood is one of the most heavy duty tasks you can do with a survival knife. So you want only the highest quality survival knife.
That being said, here are some things we look for in survival knives for batoning:
Full tang- If your survival knife will be used to chop wood, it is advisable to get a full tang knife. While you can baton without a full tang, we wouldn’t advise it.
Fixed blade knife– While you can chop wood with a folding knife, we don’t recommend it. And folding knife will naturally be weaker because of the pivot joint. But if you HAD to use a folder, just make sure the knife is not locked.
Blade of 5″ or longer – You simply won’t be able to properly chop or baton wood that is wider in diameter than the length of your knife.
Thick spine and steel blade- It goes without saying that both your knife’s spine and steel blade will be under intense pressure. Make sure you have a thick spine and blade. We prefer a blade thickness in the 0.25 inch range.
Comfortable synthetic handle- You might be wondering why we go for a synthetic handle. Well, batoning is hard on the hands and you want a little shock absorption. We’ve found that handles that give a little are the best for batoning.
Besides these characteristics, you also want to make sure you have the write batoning technique. Do you know how to strike the back of the knife blade? The wrong technique will be highly inefficient no matter how good your knife.
Now that we know what we are looking for in survival knives for batoning wood, here are the rest of our choices for best survival knives for chopping wood.
The Fallkniven A1
- Blade material: lam. Vg10
- Blade length: 160 mm
- Total length: 280 mm
- Zytel sheath included
The Fallkniven A1 is truly a survival knife that is tried and true out in the field. As the trusted knife of the Swedish Air Force, the Fallkniven A1 as as durable as they come.
When it comes to chopping wood, the Fallkniven one has many of the features were looking for, including a full tang construction. The knife blade itself comes in at 6.3 inches and will be up to the task for batoning.
The material of the blade is the legendary VG10 steel from Japan. VG10 steel is commonly used for kitchen knives because it has excellent edge retention.
To top it off, the Fallkniven A1 comes with an ergonomic handle that will provide ample comfort while batoning.
- Full tang heavy duty field knife suited for camping chores.
- Made in Olean New York, U.S.A
- Designed by Ethan Becker
- Manufactured by KA-BAR Knives Inc.
- Comes with a hard shell black nylon sheath.
The Ka-Bar Becker is one of the heavier and sturdier full tang knives out there. With a full tang construction and coming in with a blade length of 5.25 inches, this knife is built for batoning.
Made with 1095 Cro-Van steel, which is 1095 steel with a coating of Chromium and Vanadium for resistance to corrosian, the Kabar BK22 will hold a very nice edge. And the drop point blade itself is super thick, coming in at 0.25 inches.
Also includes a lanyard hole for better grip when chopping wood. For better grip, many people opt for Micarta handles.
If you’ve decided you want a batoning knife, you’ll need to do your research. If you use any old survival knife you risk serious damage. And there are legitimate reasons you should usually use an axe or hatchet instead.
But of course, you probably are here because you want to be prepared for any situation. And one of those may be using a survival knife because it’s all you have handy.
Just remember that there are things to look for in the best survival knives, including a full tang construction, a fixed blade, and a thick spine, that are critical in a batoning knife.
That being said, what are your experiences using you knife for batoning? Which knives have held up the best and which haven’t?