Survival Gear Debate: Serrated vs Plain Edge Knife

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There are pretty few choices that you can opt for while selecting a survival knife. For instance: carbon steel vs stainless steel, serrated blade vs plain edged, blade length and thickness, the design of the point etc. The feature of the product chosen by you must always be determined by the task or during the situations where the knife will be used. This article will mainly focus on the debate over serrated vs plain edge blades.

Survival Gear Debate: Serrated vs Plain Edge Knife

Serrated vs Plain Edge Knife

This discussion of serrate vs straight edge has been happening for several years. The answers that are given perpetually rely upon for what the knife is going to be used for which is set according to the survival situation where the user finds themselves in.

Serrated vs Plain Edge: Plain Edged Knife

Plain edge knives are after all blades with a plain and clean edge best suitable for the tasks which requires a push cut like skinning an animal or whittling wood. When the task needs precision and a high level of control, they are even better. They can be sharpened easily and might get terribly sharp too. Ka-Bar Becker BK2 is the best example.

Plain edged knives are chosen by many of the survivalists.

This Ka-Bar Becker BK2 has a plain edge.

Pros of a plain edged blade

  • Easy to control
  • Easy to sharpen
  • More precision when cutting

Cons of a plain edged blade

In order to cut through the straps and the thick ropes, plain edged survival knives needs to be very sharp.

Situations where a plain edged knife is best

  • Excluding the situations like cutting through tough materials like the straps and the thick ropes, the plain edged blade can be excellent in all other kinds of situations. If the plain-edged knife is extremely sharp then these tasks will not be a problem as well.

Serrated vs Plain Edge: Serrated Knife

Serrated blades can cut through the stuff easily with the sharp little ‘teeth’ they have. For tasks which require a slicing or ‘sawing’ motion like cutting through a rope, they suit better. They work well on tough material as there is less contact area when compared to a straight edged blade – by that giving it a greater relative cutting force once the pressure is applied. A downside is that the serrations cause the resulting cut material in order to have a rougher edge instead of cuts caused by straight edged blades.

Serrated knives cut through the straps and ropes smoothly.

This Spyderco Tasman is a good example of a serrated blade.

Pros of using a serrated blade

  • It is good while cutting through tough, fibrous material. With a serrated blade, ropes and straps can be cut easily.

Cons of using a serrated blade

  • Serrated blades are not easy to sharpen.
  • Serrated knives are not that great for bushcraft. Batoning wood and whittling with a serrated blade is frustrating at best.
  • When used for self-defense, the teeth on the serrated knives can get caught in an assailants clothing.

Situations when a serrated blade is best:

  • Serrated blades are good for the airman who might require cutting their way out of their aircraft in case it crashes. With a serrated survival knife, thin skin of the Planes and helicopters can be cut through.
  • Carrying serrated survival knives helps the lifeboats to get across the rope. However, a serrated or a partially serrated blade should always be considered in all kinds of marine situations.
  • As all the ropes are involved, mountaineers and rock climbers should always carry serrated knives.
  • A serrated blade helps the Rescue personnel to cut through the seat belts and ropes quickly. In a rescue operation a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death.
  • Someone who has no idea about the maintenance of a plain edged knife with routine sharpening is possibly better off with a serrated blade. Than a plain edged blade, a serrated blade will usually cut for a longer period of time as well as making it a better choice for the novice.

Partially-Serrated Knife:

These knives are the ones who try to have the better of two worlds. Some partially serrated knives have part of one edge is plain and the other half is serrated. Some of them put a plain edge on the bottom with a serrated edge on top. As they can perform any task handed them these are useful as a general purpose survival knife. The best example is Gerbers LMF II Infantry knife.

Partially serrated knife

This Gerber LMF II is an example of a partially serrated knife.

Serrated vs Plain Edge Knife – Conclusion:

I assume that I was successful in clarifying the major points regarding the serrated vs straight edge knife debate. People in a survival situation will be fine with a good plain edged survival knife. During the situations where they have to cut through the tough materials then a serrated or partially serrated knife will be useful. Finally it all rely on everyone’s personal choice.


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