*Another Survival Knife Kit*
We've all seen Rambo and his hollow hilted knife, we saw him sew himself up with a needle and thread that he got from the handle, light fires with matches he got from the handle, etc. Hollow handle knives got wildly popular right after that for a time, until people started finding out the basic truth about hollow handle knives... They Suck!
With a Hollow-Handled Knife, right where a big knife needs support, where the blade meets the handle, there is a threaded bolt that allows the hollow handle to be screwed onto the blade... that's obviously no good since ANY chopping job done with a big knife puts incredible stresses right on that exact point... breakage is imminent.
As readers of this Survival Website probably already know, a much better solution to the "survival kit in a knife" problem rests in the knife's sheath, not in the handle. Quality knife makers realized this quickly.. they make money by seeing these types of glaring problems before you and I do so that they can have a solution ready when you find out that something that looks good really doesn't work. Ahhh yes, capitalism at it's finest! Who gets to benefit from this wisdom? EVERYONE!
Quality knives usually as a rule come with quality sheaths, and a quality sheath to me is one with lots of pockets and places to stash survival items. Everyone knows I judge any knife against my beloved Ka-Bar. It's what I call "a knife standard", blending quality, toughness, and durability with a great price... Any thing more expensive than a Ka-Bar better give me features I want that aren't in the Ka-Bar. My Gerber BMF is one such knife.
Let me say up front that my friends at Ka-Bar have been VERY good to me, they are some of the finest folks on the planet as far as I am concerned, both as knife makers and as "plain ol people". My Gerber BMF is THE second to the last one that rolled off the line before they discontinued them. Gerber has THE VERY last one. I based my most recent "Survival Knife kit" around the Gerber BMF with the sponge handle and it's ballistic Nylon sheath... With (of course) some Warlord modifications.
Also, let me say, that the Gerber BMF ain't your daddy's pocket knife. It's a big ol boy, no doubt. It measures right at 15 inches from point to butt and has a bit of heft to it. I've found that you can do tiny jobs with a big knife, but you can't do big jobs with a tiny knife. I'm not ashamed to say that I am a big knife lover... It's got nothing to do with Sigmund Freud or the size of my ego or manhood... I've carried all kinds and sizes and I most always end up needing a big knife. Besides, if I need a smaller knife, I have that covered too as you'll see a bit further below in this article.
To get the Gerber sheath onto webgear or a plain ol belt, you have to remove the belt and slide the sheath on. My knife moves around a lot depending on my current situation. USUALLY (but not always) I wear my knife attached to my pant's belt, this way if I drop my webgear, my knife (and basic survival kit) stays with me. Sometimes I wear it on the left side of my webgear, sometimes on my right, as I said, it depends on the current situation... point being that I needed a way to easily move the sheath around without stripping myself or my gear to do it... easy enough.
I went to the local surplus shop and found an old Army gear clip and added it to the back of my BMF sheath. Now I can either use the slide on method (very rare) or the new quick connect method (most always) to move my knife around.
(Update: Gerber now puts this Quick Connect attachment modification on the BMF's aftermarket Sheath system... They just do a much more professional job than I did on the first one here ;)
One thing the engineers at Gerber saw was that pockets always seem to come open at the worst possible time, so on the sheath's pocket they added a wrap-around band to secure the pocket closed... they camouflaged this band as a Gerber Logo, and if you didn't look at the sheath closely you'd miss the pocket all together. My Leatherman tool lives there in that pocket.
"WHAT? Warlord how hypocritical! You say you love Gerber but you have a leatherman tool?"... Yeah, I do. It's flatter than the Gerber tool that I like to carry in my LBV pocket, I use the Gerber more so it lives in my gear where I can get to it easily. Why do I prefer the Gerber? I like the one handed operation of the Gerber Tool and it just feels "more solid" in my hand. It's just a matter of personal preference, but in an emergency where all I have is my knife, the leatherman is useful enough to be lots of help, yet thin enough to ride in the sheath pocket without getting in the way all the time.
(Notice how thin this leatherman (bottom) is)
You might ask why I carry so many tools, a leatherman AND a Gerber tool? I am my team's engineer, tools are my trade, I always need pliers, screwdrivers, punches, files, etc etc.. between the two I always have the right tool for the job.... C'mon, did you REALLY think my buds at Gerber would have me walking around without a few Gerber tools? PUH-LEEZE! I have skads of em, I'm probably one of only 4 civilians in the world that has their newest DOT tool, complete with C-4 punch. Gerber tools are THE best IMNSHO (In My Not So Humble Opinion). Regardless, I carry both, they are both quality and very useful.
(The top Gerber tool is a custom made model, you can order them with the tools YOU want in them at www.gerberknives.com. Next is the Leatherman, then my Gerber Demolitions tool... note the cap crimper in the jaws and the C-4 Punch)
Now, If you flip the sheath over, you'll notice another snap attached to a band of ballistic nylon... under that is where the diamond impregnated sharpening stone can be found.
On the back of that strap, I've taped a small package of hooks, needles, thread, fishing line and all the other tiny useful things you might need in the field. I always tend to rip something, so I have sewing kits in my gear, and in my knife sheath. What about fire? Like the spaghetti sauce commercial says, "It's IN THERE!" I simply slide a micro BIC lighter into the pocket with my leatherman.
You'll notice the "ranger bands" in the picture above, these are simply pieces of bicycle inner tube that I have cut at various thicknesses. I have them around the sheath to add a layer of rubber to quiet gear that might slap against the sheath, and Ranger bands just have a zillion uses so it's a good idea to carry a lot of them.
Also notice that in all the sheath pictures there is paracord at the end of the sheath... that's NOT for looks. YOU may move your knife around a lot, but you DO NOT want it moving around on it's on! That cord is to tie the knife to your leg so that it stays right where you put it and doesn't slip or flop around. It also gives you a few feet of paracord to use in emergencies PLUS you can strip out the inner strands (7 inner strands) and use them for fishing, sewing, securing, etc... Sometimes I wrap the sheath in paracord if I am gonna be out for a while. Paracord ALWAYS comes in handy!
There are people out there that don't care for Gerber knives, why I don't know. They are tough and reliable, and THAT is what counts. Just as a small example, this is how I split oak firewoord in the field...
(place your knife on the center of the log to be split...)
(take another log and pound the blade into the log to be split)
(once the knife is flush with the wood, take your second log and beat the TIP of the knife on downward)
(If it scares you to do this with your knife, you have the wrong knife! I do this with Gerbers and Ka-bars on a regular basis. When a tool may be all you've got, you need to be sure beforehand that the tool can stand up to abuse... I've noticed though that somewhere down the line the "abuse" becomes what many of us consider "just normal hard use in the field", but I guess that knowing it may be treated this hard does keep tool makers from skimping on quality!)
(Update: more and more over the years I've noticed that my log splitting method shown above seems to have become some sort of standard litmus test for knife quality on the internet... It seems like every other gear review and YouTube Video now shows someone beating their knife down through a log to split it, as a show of how tough their knife is... Cool by me)
Now, Before the flood of e-mail hits me, I'll tell you right now, "NO, I don't know where you can get a Gerber BMF", as I said, they discontinued them. I asked my Buddy at Gerber to try to find me one without the serrations on the back of the blade, and he looked for months with no luck... It seems that "survival" has become a HUGE craze in Japan and they have bought up EVERY BMF they can get their hands on at ridiculous prices, new and used... I've had several offers for mine at over 300 bucks... No sale, no way... But as far as I know, the Gerber Bowie is still for sale and it's a nice knife also with the same basic sheath... check before you take that as the gospel, things change and accessories change.
No matter what knife you own, the sheath can probably be made to work better for you, and hide a few items that might make the slim difference between survival and disaster when you find yourself accidentally living out on the edge. Don't be afraid to customize your equipment.
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