Kershaw Survival Knife Review

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GUEST POST BY JOHN L. DAVIS IV

Knives are often the subject of debate for hunters, hikers, campers and survivalists. Anyone who has reason to take a knife into the wild will have an opinion on a blade. Style, edge grind, handle scales, you name it and people will have an opinion. And their opinion may be right, for them.

We all know that certain styles of blade work better for different tasks, from the fillet knife to a heavy chopper, each is suited for something specific, but carrying five separate blades at all times isn’t practical (even if many of us have done it).

Your main blade, the one you take with you no matter where you’re going, or what you’re doing (aside from your EDC pocket-knife) is a deeply personal choice. No manner of criticism or derision will change your mind on this knife. Because it’s your favorite. Other knives are more expensive, better designed, have more functionality, but you won’t care, and neither do I.

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I own many knives. My 1960’s Buck hunting knife, or my Ka-Bar combat blade, the antler-handled drop-point hunter my Dad had made for me, or my huge Old Timer Bowie just to name a small selection of the blades on my shelf or in my pack. Each of these knives means something special or has its place, but my one go-to blade is my Kershaw 1005.

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The Kershaw 1005 was manufactured in the 1980’s, during the hollow-handle survival knife craze that erupted with the 1982 release of the film Rambo: First Blood. The first Rambo knife, designed by renowned Arkansas knifesmith Jimmy Lile, became the blueprint for ultra-cheap knockoff knives with a hollow handle, compass on top and a blade that was secured to the handle with a nut inside. I’ll admit, I owned several as a kid, and broke most of them. (I’m willing to bet many of you owned a few as well.)

I spent much of my childhood in the woods behind my Dad’s house, and when I was 12-years-old he bought me my first Kershaw 1005 as surprise. This knife was so far beyond what those cheap knock-offs were, it was fantastic. This was a REAL knife. I put it through it’s paces many times over the years and it never once failed to do the job at hand.  
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I used it to hack down small trees for building lean-to shelters, or sawing notches into sticks and logs for making traps. I even used the heavy butt-cap as a hammer when we were building a clubhouse. (Egad!) I was 13 when I took my first deer, a large doe, and I used my Kershaw 1005 to field-dress it. It split the pelvic bone with ease.

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Years later the knife was stolen. It took a while, but I was able to acquire another via Ebay for about $100.

The 6 and 3/4-inch blade is stainless steel with a bead-blasted finish. When I got my first one, the edge was fairly dull, and it took quite a bit of work to put a fine cutting edge on it, but once it had an edge, it always seemed to hold it well. After spending hours hacking at trees and logs, the knife would still shave feather-sticks easily, or slice up a fish for grilling over an open fire.

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The hollow handle isn’t just some bolted-on afterthought. This knife is a solid one-piece construction that won’t snap under pressure or repeated hard use. When you screw off the water-tight butt-cap the first thing you notice is the polished surface underneath, which is meant to be used in the same fashion as a signal mirror.

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Inside the handle is a plastic tube with a cap that slides out and is filled with stormproof matches, hooks, weights, and fishing line. This little kit is easily customizable to your needs or preferences.

The sheath is a heavy-duty canvas (possibly a nylon derivative, I’m uncertain), but it stands up to most abuse easily. The inside of the sheath holds a plastic insert to protect both the material and the knife from damage. The quick-clip is somewhat superfluous, as it does little to hold the blade down securely unless pulled very tight.

In the long flap that entirely covers the handle when closed there is pouch which contains a set of coated survival cards. These cards are bound together with a rivet and hold tons of information, such as shelter building, water acquisition, fire making, wilderness orienteering, and much more. A pouch in front carries a Brunton compass and a small fold-out that details the basics of compass use. Again, this is customizable to your needs. Already carry a compass in your normal gear? Remove the compass and slip in a small sharpening stone or additional fire making or fishing gear.

Whether I’m going camping, hiking, or just heading out to the woods to take a nap under a tree, my Kershaw is the knife I take with me, every time.

A good knife is one of the most important survival tools you will ever use. When choosing yours, make sure it’s a knife you know and trust, one you’ve used time and again. If you’re buying a new one, then use it, over and over, until you know for sure that it’s the one knife over all others that you would want on your side.

Whenever someone poses the question: “You have to survive in the wild or it’s the end of the world, what’s the one thing you bring?” invariably the answer is, my knife.



Do you have a “My knife” story or pictures? Share it with us in the comments section below!

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