Tagged "Survival knives"

Gerber LMF II Review

Posted by Leighton Taylor on

 Video by: gideonstactical

Knife on deck: Gerber LMF II Survival Knife

This really hunky knife you’re drooling over right now is the Gerber LMF II Survival Knife. It’s a 10-inch knife that weighs 11.5 ounces. The drop point blade is 4.84 inches long, partially serrated, and made out of 420HC stainless steel.

The LMF II’s handle is made out of glass-filled nylon with TPV overmold; it has lanyard holes that allow it to be easily converted into a spear. One of the unique things about the LMF II (whether you’re talking about the Infantry model, the ASEK one, or this one) is that it has a pointed buttcap that can be used as a hammer or a glass breaker AND it’s physically separated from the tang in order to provide shock absorption and protection from electrocution.

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How to Make a Custom Kydex Sheath for Your Survival Knife

Posted by Leighton Taylor on

Photo by Lachlan Donald. Used under Creative Commons.

So the sheath that came with your knife is less than desirable, or perhaps your knife didn't even come with a sheath when you bought it. Whoa now. That just might be a bit of a problem. We all know how important your sheath is when it comes to protecting and taking care of your survival knife, so what should you do when you don't have one?

One option is to buy yourself a sheath. There are quite a few of manufacturers who offer pretty decent sheaths that will probably suit your needs. Another option to consider is a custom sheath for your blade. Of course you can easily find a dozen or so custom sheath manufacturers, but what about making your own sheath? It's definitely the most affordable option you have of owning a sheath fit for your knife.

You'll need to buy the materials and some tools, of course, not to mention putting in a bit of elbow grease, but the cost of the materials won't be as much as a decent sheath you’d buy somewhere else. An added bonus to making your own sheath is that it will actually fit your knife perfectly. Sheaths are rarely custom made (unless you ask for them to be), so fit and stability are not always a guarantee. Aside from cost and fit, you can’t deny that there’s something unbelievably satisfying about making things with your own two hands.

All that being said, today we’re going to focus on how to make your own kydex sheath. There are plenty of tutorials and instructions to be found online. But some can be confusing and long-winded. To help you out, we’ll break it down to easy-to-follow steps so that even a rookie can figure this out.

What You’ll Need:

  • Kydex sheething (choose the size and thickness you need)
  • Rivets (choose the right size for the Kydex you will be using)
  • Rivet punch
  • Drill 
  • Saw (hobby saw, hack saw, or band saw)
  • Foam press
  • Toaster oven
  • Cotton sheet
  • WD40
  • Acetone

A lot of the materials you’ll need can be bought from a hardware store. If you’re having difficulty finding some, you can visit Knifekits.com.

How to Make Your Kydex Sheath:

Step 1:

Once you've got all the materials and tools, the first thing you'll need to do is determine the size of the sheath you'll be making. While it doesn't really have to be exact, it's better to err on the side of caution and make it bigger than it should be. This way, you can easily trim it down to size. Make sure that the Kydex sheething is wide enough to encase the blade and long enough to cover both the blade and around an inch up the handle.

Then, mark your measurements with a pencil. Score the kydex a couple of times using your knife or a razor. This will make it easier for you to fold the kydex and break it.

Important note: You can use only one piece of Kydex to wrap around your blade. This is the easiest and most popular way to go about making your sheath, and it enables you to create a sheath that has a narrower, lower profile. Of course, you can also choose to use two pieces of Kydex for each side of the sheath if that is what you prefer.

Step 2:

Once you’re done breaking of the piece/s you’ll be using, you need to heat the Kydex in your--wait for it--toaster oven (!) for about 5 minutes at 325 degrees to make it pliable. The kydex is ready when its consistency is like leather.

Step 3:

Take out your heated kydex using gloves and lay the piece/s on the table. If you have only one piece, place your sheath-needing-knife on top of the kydex and fold the kydex over the knife. You can do this side to side or end to end.
If you have two pieces, place the knife first on top of one piece and then cover the knife using the other.

It's important to do all of this within 15 seconds because kydex hardens quickly as it cools. If you made a mistake in positioning the knife, don't worry. You can easily reheat the kydex again and start the process over.

Step 4:

Place the cotton sheet inside the foam press first; then, put the kydex sheath along with the knife inside and close the press. Keep the cotton sheet between the foam and the kydex sheath + knife. This allows your kydex to settle on its own without it sticking to the foam and keeps the kydex from shifting when you close the press. Give your sheath enough time to cool (around 10 minutes) before pulling it out. Make sure that the kydex has definitely firmed up before you proceed to the next step.

Step 5:

Get a pencil and use it to mark out your outline (final sheath shape) as well as where you'll be drilling your holes for the rivets.

Step 6:

Using your saw, cut out your final sheath design.

Step 7:

Before you start to drill holes, make sure that the blade will be secure enough within the sheath but can still be easily pulled out and pushed back in. The rivets will tighten the space within the sheath so you need to ensure that there will be enough space for your blade even with the rivets in place. Once that’s done, drill holes that match your rivet size.

Step 8:

Before you punch your rivets in, take note of which way you want to carry the sheath – left-handed or right-handed. This will dictate which way you put your rivets in. After determining this, go ahead and punch your rivets. If you have a belt attachment, this is the time to put it in place as well.

Step 9:

One of the finishing steps is to sand the edges of your sheath to smooth them out. Make sure to put some masking tape inside the sheath to prevent any grit from getting inside and scratching your blade. Afterwards, you can use an air compressor or whatever you might have at hand to blow out any grit that may have gotten into your brand new sheath.

Step 10:

Use some acetone on a rag to clean up any sanding marks around the edges.

Step 11:

The final step in perfecting your new kydex sheath is to do a general cleanup, removing any pencil marks and the like. You can use some WD40 or any other oil to wipe down the entire sheath.

...and there you have it! Your very own custom made Kydex sheath.

If you happen to be a visual learner and would like a visual to go with these instructions, you can watch the video below:

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I’ll Take Sheaths for 500: Choosing the Sheath Material That’s Right for Your Survival Knife

Posted by Leighton Taylor on

Photo by Bill Bradford. Used under Creative Commons.

There’s something very satisfying in the *click* that comes as you load your gun, the explosion as you pull the trigger, and the *thud* of whatever it is that you hit as it falls to the ground. That’s a gun though. A knife is meant for stealth--a quiet slip out of the sheath into your capable hands to whittle, skin, slice, or stab.

Your knife is your companion, and as your companion, it deserves to be protected and carried in a worthy vessel. Sure, a survival knife’s sheath isn’t quite as important as the knife it’s carrying, but it still plays a crucial role in every aspect of your knife’s well-being.
Not only does it help you carry your survival knife around without accidentally hurting yourself or anyone else, it also provides your survival knife protection against exposure to the elements. A good knife sheath keeps your blade from getting scratched while you lug it around in the great and cruel outdoors, allows you instant access to your knife, and prevents you from losing it.

So a sheath is definitely important, and if it’s important, then you ought to put a good bit of thought into the type of sheath you want to use to carry and protect your precious blade. The various types of sheaths on the market today are usually designed based on how you want to carry your fixed blade survival knife. Do you prefer to have it strapped to your belt or leg, hung around your neck, or tied to your bag? While the designs do vary depending on the manufacturer, the materials used are mostly the same. Each material has its pros and cons, so we’ll take a little time today to talk about that to help give you a better idea of what kind of sheath material you’ll want for your blade (no matter how you decide to carry it).

Leather Sheath

Leather is one of the traditional materials used to make a knife sheath. It's very rugged, tough, and strong. It won't break like plastic does and can easily be re-sewn should the stitches come loose. A leather knife sheath feels and looks good and may remind you of or even make you feel a part of the “good ole days” when mountain men and cowboys ruled the land. As an added bonus, the attractiveness of a leather sheath only gets better as it ages (if properly cared for, of course). Aesthetics aside, a leather sheath is quite versatile and will provide a custom fit to your knife once it's broken in. The best thing about leather knife sheaths is that they're silent; you can easily pull the knife out or put it back in without making a sound.

Photo by Eugene Peretz. Used under Creative Commons.

While there are many advantages to a knife sheath made of leather, there are also some disadvantages. It's not waterproof (though it can be treated to make it water repellant) so getting it wet a lot or exposing it to extreme heat can dry out the oils in the leather which could lead the sheath to crack. Fortunately, oiling it from time to time can help make it last a long time.

Nylon Sheath

Nylon is another material that is commonly used in knife sheaths. Just like their leather counterpart, nylon sheaths are also tough and strong. Unlike leather though, nylon sheaths are resistant to rot and mildew. They're also not as vulnerable to water as leather sheaths. Another great aspect is that nylon sheaths aren't easily scuffed or torn. The best thing about nylon sheaths (IMHO) is that most of them are MOLLE compatible.

Photo by Jun Wang. Used under Creative Commons.

As for its disadvantages, nylon sheaths don't last as long as leather ones, and where leather sheaths fit your knife better over time, nylon sheaths get stretched out over time which means that your knife won't always fit snugly inside its sheath.


Plastic sheaths (not Kydex) are probably the cheapest ones you'll ever find on the market. You get what you pay for though, so you shouldn’t be surprised that plastic sheaths are quite probably also the ones that are the cheapest quality. A plastic sheath is most definitely an inhospitable home for you trusty blade to be carried for an extended amount of time. If you do get a plastic sheath with your fixed blade survival knife, make sure you replace it as soon as possible.


Kydex is a thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride (what a mouthful!) material that is used in creating holsters and sheaths. There are several advantages to having a sheath made from this modern material. It's waterproof, scratch resistant (it has a Rockwell hardness rating of 90), and will not stretch or shrink over time (under normal conditions). It remains unaffected when exposed to most chemicals like skin acids. In fact, Kydex sheaths are extremely durable and will hold up fairly well when exposed to different environments. They are also great for the forgetful or negligent person as they really don’t require much attention or care when compared to leather sheaths.

As for disadvantages, one of the biggest complaints about a Kydex sheath is that it's noisy and cannot be used in stealth mode. There’s no such thing as silently withdrawing your knife from a Kydex sheath, and if you accidentally brush against something you can count on your Kydex sheath to make a bit of noise. That being said, there is something particularly smile-worthy about “snapping” your blade into its sheath, but I digress. Because it is stretch proof, a Kydex sheath can sometimes be too loose or too tight for your survival knife (rattle time!). With a Kydex sheath, you do risk dulling your blade’s edge as you repeatedly withdraw and replace your knife into the sheath unless there's an insert within the sheath.

I’m sure price, appearance, and practicality all factor into your survival knife sheath decision, but it’s always important to remember that your survival knife is only good to you if you can ensure that it remains protected and secured. And let’s face it, your knife is more important in a survival situation than the sheath. So, while you're debating on which material works best for you, also put a great deal of consideration on how the sheath will “get along with” your survival knife and how it will help you carry and secure your knife while you explore the great outdoors.


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Caring for the Star of Your Survival Gear

Posted by Leighton Taylor on

Photo by Mike Petrucci. Used under Creative Commons.

The star of the show when you’re in a survival situation is not your shoes or your axe or your paracord. The star of the show (in my humble opinion) is your survival knife. Think about it. From batoning wood to skinning game to spearing or chopping or as protection, a survival knife is wonderfully multifunctional, and really, essential to a lot of outdoor tasks. Fortunately, survival knives can usually take on loads of well-meaning abuse without breaking, but this does not mean that you shouldn’t take care of them. In the same way that you will always take care of your parents because they took care of you growing up, you really ought to take care of your knife so it can continue to take care of you! (Alright, so your parents might be worth a little more than your knife, but you know what I mean.) So, how should you take care of your ever-faithful survival knife? Here are a few tips.

Tips for Survival Knife Care:

Always keep it clean. 

Your knife won’t live forever, but making sure that you keep it clean will definitely lengthen its lifespan. Keeping it clean will also keep any harmful bacteria that you may have picked up in the wild from being preserved on your blade. No, this doesn’t mean that you have to intensely clean your knife after each and every task you do. Just make it a habit to wipe your survival knife down before you put it back in your sheath. When you are cleaning your survival knife, make sure to use just a little bit of soap and running water to clean both the blade and the handle.


Photo by Arek Olek. Used under Creative Commons

What should you check for when cleaning it? 

  • Make sure there’s no dirt or sap on the blade.
  • Dry both the handle and the blade thoroughly.
  • Check again for moisture, then put it back in its sheath. (Any moisture left on the sheath could lead to rust.)

If your survival knife is made of stainless steel, avoid putting your fingers on the blade because the acid from your fingertips could lead to corrosion. One thing you should never do when cleaning your knife is to use anything abrasive to get the dirt off. This can irreparably damage your knife consequently leaving you with no tool when you just might need it the most.

Keep it lightly oiled.

Oil your survival knife's blade regularly to prevent friction. A small amount of oil can also protect the blade from rust. Lubricating oils such as household oil or oil that can be bought in local hardware stores and firearm supply stores are your best option. Some good brands include Dri-Lube and 3-in-one. You can also opt to use some WD-40 but stay away from motor oil. When oiling your knife, remember to only use a small amount. Also, don't use the oil on the handle if it's made of rubber. This will make it too slippery for your hands which could mean accidentally cutting off your fingers.

Keep it sharp.

While it’s true that a dull knife is better than no knife, even the best survival knife is not really of much use to you if it isn’t sharp--not to mention the fact that a dull knife can actually be a danger to you or to anyone else who uses it. With a dull knife, you're going to have to exert more pressure on it to get it to perform to the same standard as a sharp one. All that extra pressure makes the knife more difficult to control and can cause your fingers injury or even slip through your hands and hurt someone nearby.


Photo by Beverly & Pack. Used under Creative Commons

Since keeping your knife sharp is extremely important, you should learn how to sharpen it yourself. This is an invaluable skill that you may find yourself in need of should you suddenly be in a survival situation with no expert knife sharpener in sight. If you're a bit leery of doing it yourself while you're learning, you can find professionals that will be happy to do it for you for a fee. Whichever option you do go for, just make sure you do get your knife regularly sharpened.

Store it in a dry place.

When your knife isn’t hanging out in your pocket or you boot, it’s best to keep it in a humidity-free environment to keep moisture from getting to it. This means that as much as you might love your sexy leather sheath, you shouldn't leave your knife inside of it if you're going to be storing it for a long time. Leather can attract moisture and the chemicals in the leather can also damage the blade. To keep your survival knife safe while in storage, you'll need to wrap it with paper, place it inside a plastic bag with desiccant, and then put it in a cool, dry place. Some outdoorsmen recommend oiling it lightly before wrapping it to add an additional layer of protection against rust.

Whether you spent a fortune on what you deemed the best survival knife out there or got your knife real cheap, it doesn’t matter. A good knife will take care of you as long as you take care of it. With just a little bit of effort, you can keep your survival knife at your side for a very long time.

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Knife-aholism and the Search for the Perfect Edge: Choosing the Blade Edge that is Right for You

Posted by Leighton Taylor on

Photo by Bill Bradford. Used under Creative Commons.

One of the oldest conundrums in the annals of knife purchasing lies in the matter of the blade edge. Straight edge or serrated edge? If you’ve trolled through various forums, you’ll see that the unfortunate answer to which blade trumps is almost always “it depends” which seems like a very non-committal answer (and nobody likes those). So, how are you going to decide which blade edge is the one for you to get?

Rather than telling you that one blade edge trumps another, I’m going to break it down into the three basic blade types giving you a rundown on the pros and cons for each one. From there the choice will be up to you and the functions you deem most important in a survival knife, and this way, you can be sure that you’re getting the very best survival knife for you. 

3 Basic Blade Edge Types:

Plain/Straight Edge

We’ll start off our discussion with the straight edge blade. Though the popularity of other blade edges, particularly the partially serrated one, is increasing, the straight edge is still usually the default choice of many knife manufacturers. Just like its name, this blade edge is plain, without any teeth or grooves. It's easily the sharpest type and can be pretty versatile. One example of this type of blade edge is Cold Steel’s Leatherneck 39LSF. Although the plain edge provides a lot of versatility in a knife, there are some things that a straight edge blade cannot do.


  • A plain edge blade is extremely sharp which ensures better precision and control, especially if clean cuts are necessary.
  • It can also be easily sharpened, especially compared to a serrated edge.
  • Straight edge survival knives are highly versatile because you can "customize" the edge by how you sharpen it.


  • Straight edge knives usually need more frequent sharpening compared to a serrated survival knife.
  • The knife has to be extremely sharp to be able to cut through tough materials such as thick ropes and straps.
  • Sharpening it with a coarse stone in order to create "micro serrations" for easier slicing of thick/tough materials can damage the blade if it's not done properly.
  • Creating "micro serrations" on a straight edge survival knife can reduce the blade's effectiveness for push cuts, where cutting is performed by pushing the knife through the material.

Get this knife if you are planning to:

  • Shave
  • Skin animals
  • Chop wood
  • Prepare food
  • Any application that does a lot of push cutting

Serrated Edge

Contrary to popular belief, the serrated edge wasn't created as a rival to the straight edge. It actually serves as a complement to the other, able to easily perform tasks that a straight edge blade won't be able to do effectively. How do these two differ? Unlike a straight edge survival knife, a serrated one has little teeth that are extremely sharp allowing the blade to cut easily through tough material. One example of this type of blade edge is Cold Steel’s Super Edge 42SS.


  • Extremely effective for cutting through thick or tough, fibrous materials such as ropes and straps even if the teeth are dull.
  • Requires less sharpening since it retains its edge far longer than a plain edge survival knife
  • Doesn’t require as much direct pressure to the object being cut
  • Can inflict greater damage in combat due to its saw-like edge.


  • Not as precise/accurate as a straight edge blade when performing general tasks. It's also harder to control.
  • It's not easy to sharpen.
  • It's not an effective bushcraft knife.
  • In combat, the blade's teeth can get caught in the enemy's clothing or fur which can greatly decrease its effectiveness as a self-defense tool.

Get this knife if you are planning to:

  • Slice bread, rope, straps (i.e. seatbelts), thick wood and cardboard.

Partially Serrated Edge

*Commence angelic singing* This blade edge type is often called the best of both worlds because it combines the plain edge and the serrated edge onto one knife. Either the edge near the tip is plain and the lower part have teeth or the entire edge is plain while the back of the knife has a serrated edge. One of the best examples of this type of blade edge is Gerber's LMF II.


  • A partially serrated edge is extremely functional for both push cutting (the straight edge) and slicing through tough materials (the serrated edge).
  • It's convenient because you have two types of blade edges in one survival knife.


  • The partial serration doesn't work well if used on short blades (those that are 3 inches or shorter) because you'll need a certain length of the blade edge in order for both a plain edge and serrated edge to be effective.
  • Serrations (even partials) are always more difficult to sharpen.
  • The design is not always ideal--sometimes the placement of the serration on the edge is “wrong” for certain tasks. For example, if you’re whittling, you’ll need the straight edge to be near the lower part of the blade for better control or if you are batoning and the serration is on the edge opposite the blade, you’ll end up quickly dulling your serrations.

Get this knife if you are planning to:

  • Own only one knife that can function fairly well for most survival/woodsman activities.

So there you have it--plain edge, serrated edge, and partially serrated edge. Choosing the best survival knife for you really boils down to what you’re planning to use it for and how many you want to carry with you. Of course, then, there’s the matter of knife-aholism (the urge to always buy the newest, prettiest, baddest knife), and I can’t really help you there.

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