Is a Hatchet Better Than a Knife for Survival?

Hatchet

In any survival situation, having a belated tool is a must. Almost everyone in the survival community prefers a knife. However, there are a few people who prefer hatchet or small axe. In this article, I’m going to give my take on this issue. Let’s get down to it.

 

Tree-felling and major woodwork

There’s no doubt that for large scale woodwork a hatchet or small axe is much more capable than a knife. Felling a small tree with a knife—no matter how beefy—is all but impossible. That’s not the case with a hatchet. Even a small hatchet makes it possible to feel trees and saplings quickly and efficiently. Chopping firewood and preparing wood for use in structures is also much easier with the leverage and reach provided by a hatchet.

 

Advantage: Hatchet

 

Fine woodwork and carving

While a sharp hatchet makes it possible to do some fire woodwork, a knife is obviously better at these tasks. With a handle and overall shape designed for carving and intricate tasks, a knife provides a safer platform as well.

 

Advantage: Knife

 

Skinning and cleaning game

For most small game tasks, the smaller blade and higher precision of a knife allows you to skin and clean faster and more easily. However, there are a few areas where the hatchet does come out ahead. This includes simple tasks like quartering, cutting through ribs, and removing the head. A hatchet makes it easy to chop through bone and sinew for these larger tasks.

 

Advantage: Tie

 

Self-defense

As a weapon, a hatchet is usually going to be more effective than a knife. That’s because it has longer reach. In close combat, reach is incredibly important. The power of any individual strike is also going to be higher with a hatchet, since the handle and higher overall mass increases momentum. The haft of the hatchet also allows it be used as a hook and for blocking strikes.

 

Advantage: Hatchet

 

Hammering tool

In a survival situation, tools must be repurposed for a great many tasks. One of these might be hammering. Hammering could be important for driving stakes into the ground for shelter, to secure a handing animal, or to soften food. As many hatchets have a built-in flat-hammer on the rear of the blade, they have the clear advantage for this task.

 

Advantage: Hatchet

 

Weight and portability

Any knife is likely to be smaller, lighter, and more easily concealed than a hatchet. Therefore, a knife is the clear winner in this category.

 

Advantage: Knife

 

Durability

In most cases, a hatchet will be more durable than a knife, because a hatchet is designed to be swung around and bashed into wood. Knives are for the most part designed for more fine use. This is not true of all knives—some are truly strong and well-constructed—but in general a hatchet will last longer than a knife when put to hard use.

 

Advantage: Hatchet

 

Fire starting

A knife has several advantages over a hatchet when it comes to fire starting. For one, it’s much easier to create wood shavings or a feather stick with a knife. Additionally, striking a fire steel on the back of a knife blade is much easier than using a hatchet. While the hatchet does make it easier to process and prepare larger firewood, the knife wins out here.

 

Advantage: Knife

 

Misc. cutting, first aid, and camp chores

When it comes to cutting, there are numerous needs that come up in a wilderness or survival situation. These can include cutting holes in clothing or fabric, cutting bandages, piercing abscesses or blisters, cutting rope or twine, and many more. For these small camp chores a knife, with it’s small agile blade with a pointed tip), has a clear advantage over a hatchet.

 

Advantage: Knife

 

Which is better?

So which is the better survival tool: hatchet or knife? The can be no definitive answer to this question. Any one person is likely to answer the same question differently depending on the situation they find themselves in. The knife may be better suited to many tasks, but the hatchet can adequately perform some of them—while performing others that are all but impossible with a knife.

In any survival or prepping scenario, you need to make a choice based on your terrain, likely tasks and obstacles you may face, the amount of gear you can carry or maintain access to, the size of your party, and so on.

Ideally, you should have both tools—and if you have a couple people, you can split the job of carrying these items are have the best of both worlds. If not, you may have to make a choice. But I can’t make it for you. Heck, if you live in the tropics you might dump both of these in favor of a machete! The lesson is simple: adapt to the circumstance. That’s how you survive.

Is a Hatchet Better Than a Knife for Survival?
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Dan Stevenson

Dan Stevenson is a chief editor of The Survival Corps and an experienced survivalist who is incredibly passionate about everything survival and preparedness, be it in the great outdoors or in an urban environment.

Besides his primary job functions at The Survival Corps, Dan has been recognized by the survival community for his extraordinary commitment and an insatiable desire to always achieve absolute excellence in everything that he undertakes.

Being a survival expert for a very long time, Dan has acquired extensive knowledge and experience regarding preparing for camping trips, hiking, hunting and any other outdoor adventure and surviving in the wilderness. He also knows quite a lot about preparing for emergency situations in the concrete jungle when one would need either self-defense or other survival skills in various cases of crisis, such as a natural disaster.

Dan’s remarkable knowledge and expertise, absolutely tireless work ethic, astonishing passion and commitment and unparalleled focus is what truly sets him apart from all the other survivalist enthusiasts. He is truly the lifeblood of The Survival Corps and we can honestly say that we wouldn’t be where we are without him.

He is a professional and a true leader that anyone would love working with, both in and out of the office walls. He has an incredibly friendly and open personality and loves helping others, which is exactly where he finds constant inspiration and passion for learning more and providing people with tips and tricks for all things survival.

He is curious, imaginative, creative and always puts other people first, never failing to really help them put safety in their lives. If you’re a passionate survival enthusiast, The Survival Corps is the right place for you, as Dan will never cease to amaze you with valuable information for helping you plan, prepare and survive both in the wilderness and in an urban environment.

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