Using a knife for survival

An article at informs on how to use a knife safely and efficiently for survival.


  • For outdoors, carry a fixed-blade knife, as this is less likely to break.
  • The knife should always stay in its sheath. Otherwise, you could stumble and fall into it, slicing and dicing an organ.
  • Practice drawing the knife so that you don’t accidentally grab the sheath or somehow get cut. You may need to draw it at a second’s notice.
  • The draw should have two steps. First, take the handle with your forehand to loosen the blade in the sheath; push against the sheath with your thumb. Next, wrap thumb around handle and slowly withdraw the knife away from your body.
  • Always use slow movements with a knife.
  • When giving a knife to someone, use a forehand grip; rotate knife between forefinger and thumb. The handle should face the recipient, edge of knife pointed up. Do not release the knife until the recipient has a secure hold.
  • A sharper blade is safer because it requires less force, so always keep it sharpened.

Gripping a Knife

  • For most tasks, use a forehand grip: Knife is inside your fist, its edge facing your first finger.
  • This is why before you buy a knife, first make sure you can completely close a fist around the handle. Huge handles are no good.
  • A reverse grip is preferable when cutting cords of any type. The knife edge points towards the thumb. And pull with your shoulder or torso rather than arm to avoid an over-pull.
  • Chest lever grip. Hold blade with edge pointed in reverse direction to the forehand grip, pointed up towards knuckles.

Knife Uses

  • Chopping wood. Place knife with forehand grip against the wood. Use a wooden object shaped like a baton to “hammer” the blade through the wood.
  • Splitting wood. Place knife’s blade, using forehand grip, over the wood. Use the baton to drive it through in the direction of the grain.
  • Slicing. You’ve certainly already done this many times at home: slicing celery, carrots, lettuce, bread, apples (if you’re a man you should know how to do these things!). The key in survival or outdoor slicing is to slice with a forehand grip against a surface that mimics a cutting board at home.
  • Power cutting. Use the chest lever grip while securely holding the object you want to cut. Draw the blade through it hard, using your back muscles.
  • Controlled cutting. The chest lever grip is also used, but you work your way around the object being cut.
  • Drilling. Place tip of knife onto the object (knife is vertical) and begin twisting right and left. Don’t be too forceful or your hand might slip down the knife.

With any use or grip of a knife, always make sure—before you begin the task—that no body part is in the path of the knife if the knife were to slip.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.