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Building an Arsenal of Edged Weapons for Utility and Self Defense

Few things are more useful than edged weapons.  The utility and value of edged weaponry in a survival or critical self-defense situation is second to none.  The key to best benefit from this utility is to be able to build a portfolio of edged weapons and learn to care for them and to understand how to use them.

*Key Point: Don’t forget how many people could be with you in a typical scenario.  If you plan on having a family of four, or six different adults, plan accordingly to help members of the group to get familiar with, and have adequate access to enough edged weapons/utility-edged equipment.

This isn’t about putting yourself in harm’s way to prove you have what it takes to survive with a knife.  This is about understanding how to best use these pieces of equipment to help become self sufficient and further the goals in time of need.

What comprises an arsenal of edged weapons?

  • An axe capable of cutting down sizable trees
  • A high-quality hand saw
  • A large machete and heavy cleaving knives/short swords
  • A heavy-bladed survival/tactical/hunting knife
  • Several folding knives
  • Several utility blades (think drywall knives)
  • A high quality chef’s Knife
  • A high quality paring knife
  • A steel
  • A set of high quality stones/sharpening equipment
  • If you are feeling adventurous and have the commitment and time to learn how to use one: a high quality sword.

This set of edged weapons should really be looked to as a minimum setup, though it may seem excessive.  In daily use, we see these items taken for granted as we don’t realize how much usage they truly receive.  It’s about being self-sufficient and not having to waste time while in a scenario of survival.

Axe: An extremely versatile item, the axe can be used to hack down trees, or as a last-ditch effort to hack down threats.  Essentially though, it’s an item to help you build up and to tear down.  Its primary usage is to help get into places or to fortify your compound.

High-Quality Hand Saw: Ideally, a well thought out solar/wind/hydro or other alternative energy-generation plan will provide you with power tools, but a hand saw is there when a bushing or a bearing fails, when your energy system isn’t complete before its usage, or when you need to be able to carry things with you into the field.

Machete and Heavy Cleaving Knives/Short Swords: These help with utilitarian jobs around the property and can also function as a defensive weapon.  The main use is to clear debris and foliage, but they allow you to provide cheap extra reinforcements to your arsenal of edged weapons.  A super high-quality machete might cost $30.

Heavy-Bladed Survival/Tactical/Hunting Knife: A fighting knife for when you are on your own turf, a utility hunting knife in the field, and something that lets people know not to challenge you.  Simply, this item has a use in every scenario you could possibly find yourself in while trying to be fully self-sufficient.  It is a no brainer.

Folding Knives: These things will get you out of a weird situation more often than not.  Fishing, camping, cooking—it can’t do anything extremely well, but it can do a lot of things relatively well. Two per person to start, as you can never really have enough around.

Utility Blades: These will get you out of jams in construction, daily projects, and can even serve as a last-ditch weapon.  If you don’t have at least three of these $5 knives, and 100 extra blades, then you are not preparing for even a mild survival situation.  These knives can make the difference in completing a task within a reasonable amount of time and not completing it at all.

High-Quality Chef’s Knife: Look for super high quality and splurge for a good brand with a great metal.  A chef’s knife will help out in prepping all that food from your garden and from that deer you just shot.  It’s an absolute essential, so don’t skimp. Take the time to research and take the money to buy a real quality piece. A Shun brand 10” chef’s knife will give you all the versatility you will need, plus it will be light and thin enough that your older children or spouse can handle it as well.

High-Quality Paring Knife: This will do everything that your chef’s knife won’t. It’s a workhorse in the kitchen and can’t be beat for small jobs.  A high-quality version will yield excellent results. Only opt for ceramic if you plan in buying a backup: ceramic is too brittle and too inconsistent to serve as a one-knife choice.

Steel Sharpening Rod and a Set of High-Quality Stones: Get these to keep your knives in great condition.  Remember this is not an easy task: learn your stones and how to use them.  Your knives are only useful if they still cut.

Sword: It’s mostly a longer-range hand-to-hand weapon.  There are very few uses for a sword outside of trying to kill people or defend against attackers.  It is simply there to strike fear into the opposition and to provide some distance in hand-to-hand close-quarter combat.

Assembling an arsenal of edged weapons is certainly more than just for protection: it’s a move towards utility, efficiency, and value.  Do not underestimate the need for training and practice with your new tools, and don’t skimp on quality.  Remember to buy high-quality metals so you can have the best blades, and learn how to sharpen them.  The single best way to extract value out of your self-defense budget is to buy utilitarian knives and learn how to extend their useful lives.  It is equally important to understand how to use a knife as it is to understand gun usage.  Training and knowing your limitations will be important in the process of building an effective arsenal.

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  1. You didn’t mention a spear. A very basic and effective edged tool. Mine are made from lawnmower blades or leaf springs, and use handles that are sold for rakes and shovels. Even a long handled spade shovel can be cut down to a point and sharpened to be a very effective spear. A spear can be used face to face for defense and can even be thrown to extend its range. Useful for defense against human OR animal predators.

  2. Forgot the butchers friend, a good boning knife. Best thing in the world to disassemble large game.

  3. And you forgot the fisherman’s best friend the Filet knife. Very important if fishing will be relied on for meat. Once I was forced to prep a fish with a Swiss army knife and let me tell you, even as sharp as it was, it was not an easy task.


  5. Good points. A good fillet/boning knife (think Victorinox kitchen version with ABS handle, heavy blade for the style, but moderately flexible) and a good spear tip (think the Bushman by Cold Steel), can get you out of binds, and keep you well supplied with meat, when you know how to use them. It’s tough to make a super comprehensive list within the restraints of any one particular article, but I’m always available for my thoughts to supplement my writing-so please comment and ask questions on the writing when you get a chance. SO much useful information from the readers and members of the site, share all that knowledge.

  6. In a survival situation a good edge weapon is more valuable than a gun 99.9% of the time. A gun might make one feel safer, but if you sit down and compare the two you’d have to agree. (Just to let you know, I’m not in any way anti-gun. As a matter of fact I’m a Patron Life member of the N.R.A.) I have everything from pin knifes to hunting knifes from machetes to axes. There are many knifes out there made for survival I would recommend that everyone invest in one and keep it with your other survival things, being able to retieve it easily. Also keep a good sharping devise that goes with the edge weapon you choose. There have been a lot of good comments so far, but I must disagree with a filleting knife. True, their good when it comes to filleting fish, but try and cut down small trees and branches with one. A good heavy blade knife will do both, even with difficulty filleting a fish but then again this is a suvival and one can put a fish on a stick to cook it, but nothing saids one can’t get both for their survival kit. GOD BLESS and GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS!

  7. I have a walking stick which contains a cruciform French bayonet. Use it to spear trash since I have a bad back. As a defensive weapon, it lacks the ability to slash (My Montagnard spear is double edged and has a lead weighted butt on a bamboo shaft.) but used like a bayoneted rifle, could be very handy. Like the olden boarding pike utilized by the navies of the world. Getting a cruciform bayonet in the body requires surgery, you cannot just stitch up the hole. This is the reason for all the triangular and cruciform bayonets. Internal bleeding, infection from the bacteria carried in on a dirty blade with an amazing amount of area for its cross section. We taught the bayonet in the Infantry for years after anyone expected to use one for anything except utilitarian purposes. The reason was to condition soldiers to close with the enemy. You can shoot him at point blank range but to take positions, you must close. Cold steel has a psychological effect on many people. If you have ever been in front of troops doing riot control, you know the effect of steel flashing in the sun, the sweep to the guard position and the stamping, thrusting as they advance. People wet their pants when the people behind them prevent their running as fast as they would like. Edged weapons have no working parts, are silent, deadly and definitely have a place in survival planning.

  8. There’s a lot of good information here, I’m fairly new to survival prepping; being an avid gun owner for over 40 years I have plenty,but knives I’m just starting. So far have a gerber hunting knife with gut hook and the Bear Gills model survival knife (gerbers improved model) and Parang, a Sog tomahawk and folding stainless serated 4″ blade pocket knife, a couple swiss folding multi tool knives, a leatherman (the original) and a buck folding 4″ blade. I also have a fillet knife. What is the best stone to have on hand to keep these sharpened and should I have a few; do you prefer natural or diamond stones? I like the spear idea and was thinking of taking a decent size kitchen knife, removing the handle and attaching the tang to the end of a strong wooden pole. Any ideas on that? Please excuse all the questions but there is so much to learn here.

  9. I have thought much about this subject. If one is serious about using a knife for anything other then a last ditch effort at self defense your just plain gonna die. I once bought a cutlass for self defense. I have found most reproductions to be far too long & heavy for serious use. Anything over 2 pounds is TOO HEAVY. A good edged weapon should have a blade of 13-18″ and be 2 pounds or under. By far the best choice I have found is a spear. I make mine from Cold Steel Bushman knives. I make the handle 6 foot and then cut it down until I find the right usable length for my apartment. (normally 5 foot) Short of having a good firearm a spear with a large dagger/short sword as a backup is hard to beat.

  10. I also have a Cold Steel Sword cane. (Not legal in some states.) It has a stout blade and can be used to slash and stab. The shaft it fits into is tough and can be used to deflect an attack. I have found it a quality product.

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