A few years back, I had a very serious accident. Serious, as in I cut the side of my thumb off from the knuckle across my nailbed – a neat 1/4 inch thick slice. That kinda serious. For a while, needless to say, this incident totally shattered my confidence in using anything sharp … anything. So when my friend, Patrick Roehrman of MT Knives (@PatrickRoehrman on Twitter) sent me a beautiful and … pink (ekkkk!) Genesis neck knife with a matching pink paracord as a gift, I kindly thanked him and promised to use it and give him my thoughts on the knife. That did not happen. Instead, I placed the knife back in the box it came in, afraid to use it. There it stayed in the box - for a long time, that is until Patrick once again contacted me to see how I was enjoying my Genesis neck knife (insert the cringe.)
As most preppers know, a knife is the number one survival tool – and if you didn’t know – you do now. A quality knife that is. Unfortunately, the focus seems to be more on firearms and ammo, and a lot of prepper-gear these days with preppers. And those preppers who do carry a knife, seem to be former boy scouts or military, and hunters, or ordinary guys who carry the pocket knife their dad gave to them. There just aren’t as many women who carry a knife, or if they do, not outwardly.
Thinking about this, I once again pulled the Genesis neck knife out of the box and looked at it. It really wasn’t threatening or intimating and I had after all regained my confidence to once again use sharp objects (though the use of “chainmail glove” therapy (don’t judge) at the urging of my hubby.)
I decided to find out more about knives to see what made this tool so important to preppers. I did the same thing when learning about hand guns. Sorry to say - but they all looked the same to me; black, a pistol grip, a barrel, a trigger, and they all went pew-pew; some louder than others. Yeah, yeah, I have since learned there are many differences, and I’m sure the same holds true for knives as well.
I start my quest with my friend Patrick by asking him why he makes knives. Without reinventing the wheel, I am inserting a great video he created to answer just that. (Click here ) I could have never done this topic justice.
Although the video is very informative, mostly to men folk who actually understood what Patrick was talking about, I needed to know more. I wanted to know more about what makes a knife a good fit.
Don’t get me wrong, I use knives all the time now. I have big ones, small ones. I have cheap ones and expensive ones. I have carving knives, paring knives, steak knives, butter knives – but I don’t carry a survival knife on me at all the times.
Patrick was kind enough to let me interview him with some questions I had to get a better understanding of knives.
SJ: Patrick tell me, we use knives at home, work, and for hunting, yet knives for the most part seem to be over looked in prepping with women. Why do you think this is?
MT: I think this is a problem for men as well as women. Men have a natural attraction to things like knives. Women may be judged to be eccentric for liking knives. I believe one problem that we all face is because many day-to-day uses of a knife have been converted to a tool that performs one function. Like a box cutter, slap-chop, or a gadget like the salad shooter.In the same vein, products have been made consumer friendly reducing the need to carry a knife with you at all times. You can buy a chicken pre-cut and deboned for you. Plastic packages come with notches and perforations for easy opening. We once relied on having a properly sharpened knife to perform these day-to-day tasks. People prefer the convenience of consumer products over learning a new skill like sharpening a knife. I aim to teach skills to whoever wants to learn. The more skills a person has the fewer gadgets and handicaps they need, in the field and in the kitchen.
SJ: Wow, isn’t that the truth? Great response. A lot of us are definitely consumers, and seeking the easy way to do things.
So then, what should someone look for in a good knife? And why would these things be important?
MT: Knives get all lumped together in one broad category. The truth is it really depends on the task. Choose the right knife for the right task. That being said, I think a small sharp knife (along with blade skill) will go a long way.
SJ: You mean, like my small Geniuses neck knife?
MT: Yes exactly. In fact this is my main EDC. Its a small neck knife with an approximately 3-inch blade, I
recently field dressed and parted up two deer with a similar knife. Splitting both the rib cage and pelvis with it. If you know where to cut you can completely take apart almost any animal with a knife that size. I have even processed our own beef on our farm with a small neck knife. I have a friend who is a guide in CO. He told me, “You can always tell the new guides apart from the seasoned guides. The new guides show up with a huge knife strapped to their leg. And they always make a mess trying to field dress game.”
SJ: So, bigger doesn’t always mean better – even with knives. Sorry Crocodile Dundee knife fans (look him up if you don’t know who I’m referring to).
Let’s talk about how to properly to handle a knife? Can you give any tips or suggestions for women?
MT: It has been said a million times. Never cut towards yourself.
SJ: (wince) Yeah, I can’t tell you how many times my hubby has said that exact same thing to me (hint: it’s a lot).
MT: Also, if you are exerting a lot of force, then your knife either needs to be sharpened or you have the wrong tool for the job. Knives are designed to cut, and they should do that with ease. Guys with good hand strength get away with using brute force with a dull knife (and seriously damaging the edge of their knife in the process). Gals need to keep their knives sharp so that the edge of the knife does the work for them.
SJ: Yep, heard that before too. Keep your knife sharp. So how do we do that? Do you have any suggestions for keeping a knife in good working order?
MT: Learn how to sharpen and maintain an edge. I believe it is something anyone can learn. It is rewarding being able to maintain your own knives. Also, never try cutting something harder than the knife itself. The edge of the blade is fragile, a human hair is about 100 microns, the edge of a sharp knife is about 1 micron, and fragile. All it takes to destroy the edge of the knife is to come in contact with something harder than itself.
SJ: Wow, looks like I’m the poster child for what not to do with knives! I'm guilty of this too!
And, that is really fascinating about hair and the edge of a knife.
MT: Anytime you even tap the edge of the knife against steel, glass, bone, rock, etc. you have damaged the edge of the blade. You would be surprised how long a knife can stay sharp when properly cared for.
SJ: Yeah, and you would be surprised what I’ve tried to do using a knife. No wonder they are so dull.
As you know, my site focuses on women and preparedness, and yet I have men who frequent the site as well. What would you suggest to any person looking for a survival knife? Why should they make MT Knives their first stop?
MT: There are so many different styles of knives all having their own purpose. However, the best knife for a survival situation is the knife that you have on you at the time. Everyone has a different preference on carrying a knife but what I find to be most useful is a neck knife. Many wouldn’t consider it a survival knife but it does 95% of everything I use a knife for.
I make knives. I own hunting knives. I have a ton of knives to choose from. I really only use two knives. My neck knife, and my chef knife. They do 99% of all the cutting I do.
As far as MT Knives being the first stop. I believe that you should choose the survival knife that suits you the best. The Genesis knife is purpose-built for two things. To be easily carried every day, all day. Secondly, it is designed to be sharp, and stay sharp.
I think the most important quality in any knife maker is integrity. Without it, you will never end up with the best knife possible. Wherever you decide to shop for a knife you should find a knife maker who values quality over quantity. I would never put my name on a knife I didn’t believe was one of my best.
I believe strongly in personal choice when choosing a knife. That is why I offer a custom knife. However, I can only make so many custom knives in my lifetime and so, I have taken down my custom orders for now. I have a long waiting list. I am sure that I will open up my custom ordering again someday. I believe in my knives so much that I actually want everyone to have one. That is the reason I build the Genesis. Everyone can own one of my knives if they want one.
SJ: It seems to be acceptable for a man to pull out a knife to cut, trim, shear, or chop something and no one gives a second thought. However, for a woman, it comes across as odd. How would you address this gender obstacle?
MT: I get looks all the time! (ha!) The more people see it, the less it will become taboo. I don’t hide the fact I have a knife or use a knife.
You are always going to have those people who will give you looks. People are afraid of everything. Afraid of things they shouldn’t be. And not afraid of things they should be. As a knife owner, I encourage you (women and men) to be kind to people. Be patient with them. Show them they have nothing to be afraid of. Maybe even teach them a thing or two about knives and how handy they are.
SJ: That is really well said. Good points.
What does a quality survival knife to you mean?
MT: As I said earlier, any knife I have at the time. I created the Genesis Neck Knife not necessarily as a “Survival Knife” but as a great EDC knife. It is lightweight and low profile, with premium steel that will hold an edge 2-3X longer than other knives. No, it will not baton wood, and it isn’t a throwing knife. It is simply a great little knife that you can have with you 24/7 365 days a year. The only time my knife comes off is when I shower and I put it on top of my clean clothes so I don’t forget to put it back on. I even sleep with it, so if I ever had to get up and out of the house in a moments notice it would be with me.
SJ: For those of you who aren't sure, EDC means, every day carry; something you have it with you all the time.
You sleep with your knife on? Wow, never thought of that, but it sure makes sense.
Patrick, you mentioned, size. But does size really matter in a survival or EDC knife?
MT: I say yes and no. I can see the advantages of batoning with a knife. A larger knife will perform some tasks like making tent stakes easier. Hopefully if I am in a survival situation I will have some other tools better fit for those jobs. Like an ax, and take down saw. Anytime you want a tool that will perform many different tasks they will only do several tasks mediocrely. I prefer to have the right tool for the job that excels at the task required.
SJ: That is so true!
How about blades? Is there an advantage to a fixed blade over a folding knife?
MT: The fixed blade knife will almost always be stronger than a folding knife. K.I.S.S (Keep it Simple Sally) by adding a moving joint on a knife you have created a weak spot that may fail.
SJ: Hmmm. True. How about this? What does the term “full-tang” mean?
MT: Full-tang means the steel of the blade and the handle are all one piece. The steel extends the entire length of the knife. From point to pommel. Some knives have partial tangs or hidden tangs meaning the tang is not visible or only runs part way through the handle. The Full-tang is the strongest blade of them all.
SJ: Yeah, I had a experienced with a steak knife. The knife snapped right at the point where the metal met the handle while cutting a piece of steak (don’t judge). Imagine if that had been the knife, I was counting on in a survival situation!
How about the knife tip? Is there a better tip type for a good survival knife?
MT: I really like a drop point. It is great for many different tasks. This is one thing many people do a poor job of sharpening. In my video, Beyond Razor Sharp, I cover how to get a point on your knives that is like a needle. A needle sharp point works great for digging out splinters and puncturing things. The tip and the heel of the blade is the most used parts of the edge. They are also the most often missed part of the blade when sharpening.
SJ: Are there do’s and don’ts that you would suggestion when using a a small knife like the Genesis neck knife?
MT: Enjoy it! Wear it! Take pride in it! I am proud of it!
Don’t grasp the sheath when deploying the knife it will lay you open to the bone before you know it.
SJ: Yeah, things can happen fast, believe me. And you can’t unring that bell.
MT: Also, don’t throw the knife its not made for throwing, and don’t pry or baton with it. It is a cutting knife – and excels at that. But, most importantly, don’t let it get dull. It makes me look bad. (Ha!)
SJ: Oh that’s funny! We surely wouldn't want to do that!
MT: Be sure to show your friends just how sharp it comes. I have had many people say it is the sharpest knife they have ever owned. Many knife collectors say that my knives are the sharpest of all their custom/production knives they own.
SJ: This has been amazing. Lots of great information.
Do you have any parting words of wisdom?
MT: Yes, learn how to sharpen your knife, it is relaxing, rewarding, and fun!
Thanks for the interview Jane! I am honored by your interview. Happy sharpening!
SJ: And thank you Patrick for helping us all better understand the importance of having the right knife – and a sharp blade.
Everyone, Patrick has graciously offering a $5 discount on his video Beyond Razor Sharp by using the coupon code: SurvivalJane (shhhh don't tell him I'm Survivor Jane *wink*)
Please make sure to check out Missouri Ozarks' knife maker Patrick Roehrman at www.MTKnives.net
He uses the best steel to make the sharpest knives. – Just sayin’.
- Survivor Jane
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