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The Ancient Overlooked Survival Knife That’s Perfect For Everyday Carry

Karambit

To me, one of the most intriguing intellectual exercises in preparedness is the question of every day carry (EDC) essentials. The question becomes, “If I suddenly found myself in a survival situation with nothing available beyond what is in my pockets, what should I have in them?”

We all know that we should have a couple of ways to start a fire (Bic lighter and a ferrocerium rod or Blast match are great choices), and that a hank of paracord in some form (mine is in a bracelet and braided into a key fob, made for me by my daughter) is useful. But in my estimation, a good knife is the backbone of a solid EDC kit. Here, the choices are limitless.

I have said before, and will undoubtedly say again, I am an aficionado of traditional forms. This holds true for me in the category of EDC knives, as in other areas. This having been said, I would like to offer up some thoughts on an often overlooked blade in the world of EDC, and that is the Karambit.

For the uninitiated, Karambits are the wickedly curved blades traditional to Indonesia. The curved design is based on the shape of a tiger’s claw, the tiger being revered in Indonesian culture. Thus, traditionally, the knife design had ceremonial significance as well as being an everyday tool and a last line of personal defense. In addition to this shape, a finger guard loop at the end of the handle is often a distinguishing feature of this type of knife.

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I have read different accounts of the Karambit’s evolution. One school of thought is that it is a progressively scaled-down version of larger fighting weapons, synonymous to the evolution of the dagger from the broad sword. The other school of thought is that it was designed as a tool rather than a weapon and that its martial uses were a natural outcropping of its form and functionality in conjunction with its wide availability at times when weapons became a necessity. As in many stories, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. In practical terms, suffice it to say that by whichever route, the Karambit has been the utilitarian knife of choice in Indonesia and surrounding areas, used by warriors for many hundreds of years. In effect, it has been EDC gear for a lot longer than the term has existed!

Image source: WikipediaThe Karambit today is probably best recognized for its adoption by many martial arts styles. It is well-suited as a weapon, but it is also very functional, too. I have found that the blade shape lends itself well to cutting rope and cord. The very fine point does a great job as an awl, and functions well for making holes in leather and other materials. I find it to be a very good whittling tool, for making stakes and skewers (anything of the “pointy stick” category), and for stripping smaller branches from larger ones or small tree trunks (useful in shelter building). The Karambit also excels at field dressing game.

The shape in general and the finger loop in particular make this a very safe knife to work with; your grip is always secure and it is easy to work the blade away from the body. Overall, it is an excellent all-around utility knife.

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As a personal defense weapon, it also has some very useful features.

The shape of the blade and the overall shape of the knife, in conjunction with the method of grip, make the weapon more difficult to see in the hand. In essence, you have a semi-concealed weapon even when it is drawn and ready for action. This can provide an advantage of surprise in a confrontation, and in some circumstances can permit you to anticipate an escalation of a situation without contributing to the escalation by actually presenting a weapon.

There are a wide range of Karambit on the market, from the economical to the very expensive. They come in folding and fixed blade models. My favorite general carry Karambit has become the M-Tech 8 inch with G10 scales. This blade falls on the very economical side of things and can be found for less than $20.

Everyday carry gear is a very personal matter, and is dictated to a high degree by lifestyle and profession. But if you are looking for a knife, consider a Karambit.

Do you have any experience with a Karambit? Share your advice in the section below:

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