I’ve always been into big survival knives. I especially like a large, “do it all,” survival knife because it can substitute the need to carry an axe and a smaller knife. One such knife that has been getting a lot of attention lately is the SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife. I really liked the design of this knife so I knew I had to get one in for a review. Below are my impressions of the knife.
This is a medium-large knife with an overall length of 12″, a blade length of 6.4″ and a weight of 15.9 ounces. There are three features that I find especially important with the blade. SCHF9 has a blunted tip, a deep full flat grind and a plain edge.
I prefer a blunted tip over a pointed one with a survival knife because it makes for a much stronger tip that is less likely to break. Tip strength is very important when you don’t have the luxury of a garage full of tools. Despite having a blunter tip than say, the Schrade SCHF1, the knife can still be very effective as a defensive or tactical tool and will perform thrust cuts well. I find my main use with a large survival knife is chopping and slicing, not stabbing – therefore a strong tip is important to me.
The full flat grind is also a very important blade characteristic that I like to see in a large survival knife. The full flat grind (vs. a saber or hollow grind) makes for a much tougher edge. Not only does this avoid blade chipping but it is excellent for chopping. The steel on the SCHF9 is a good 6mm thick at its widest point and the blade comes with a deep full flat grind. The thick steel and deep full flat makes the knife very hatchet like. This knife excels at splitting wood and other chopping and slicing tasks.
A final blade characteristic that I really like about the Schrade SCHF9 is that it’s a plain edge. Specifically, I’m happy it’s not a partially serrated knife. Serrations have their place and I own several serrated knives, however, I feel that for a survival knife combo edges have disadvantages. Partially serrated blades are A) difficult to sharpen (especially in the field) and B) provide neither the advantage of a full serrated knife nor the advantage of a full plain edge. What you get is a poor compromise. The last thing you need in the woods is a tool that can “kinda” work. You want a couple quality tools that will get you home safe. A big plain edge lets you use the full leverage of the knife for chopping tasks and allows you to to also work in close with the edge for detail tasks. I carry a lightweight pocket chainsaw for when I require serrations.
The combination of the blunt tip, deep full flat grind and plain edge is an absolute winner. I think it’s an ideal combination for a large survival knife, especially paired with a pocket chain or wire saw.
The SCHF9 is made from a single solid piece of 1095 High Carbon steel. 1095 is a very popular knife and tool steel and is an excellent choice for a survival blade. A high carbon steel is generally harder and will hold an edge longer than a stainless steel. This is very important if you do find yourself in a survival situation. The 1095 will take a beating and hold it’s edge very well. However, because it is a high carbon steel (instead of a stainless) it will be more prone to rust. Keep in mind that all knives, even stainless steel knives, can and will rust without proper maintenance. Rust is easily avoided by keeping the blade dry, storing it outside of the sheath, and oiling occasionally (I like gun oil but WD-40 works in a pinch). Schrade also applied a tough teflon coat to the blade to help minimize the chance of rust.
A lot of attention went into designing the handle of the SCHF9. Schrade selected Kraton scales for the handle material. Kraton is a hard rubber that provides excellent grip, wet or dry. The handle is lightly textured and my experiences with the knife have found it to be very grippy.
The ergonomics of the SCHF9 were well thought out. The handle on the SCHF9 has 3 finger choils and a large palm swell making the handle very easy to hold with or without gloves. Additionally, the combination of the handle shape and tough rubber scales make this a very comfortable knife to use. I find that the Kraton absorbs a lot of the shock when chopping hard wood. Speaking of chopping, the blade’s weight and balance make it ideal for chopping and splitting while the well-designed handle keeps the knife in your hand. I like to break my reviews down into parts, but it’s important to remember that the knife will be used as a whole. The finger choils on the handle and the the un-sharpened portion of the blade give you a variety of gripping options. I’ve found that this larger knife will allow for detail work of a smaller knife (a such as making feather sticks to start a fire) because of the great handle design.
The sheath on the SCHF9 is very good for such a large and inexpensive survival knife. Now a bad sheath can sometimes be a deal-breaker for me so I understand the importance of a good sheath. Fortunately, the SCHF9′s cordura sheath is well made and has a heavy duty plastic insert with an adjustable retention strap for right or left hand carry. The sheath has the option of attaching with a strong snap on strap or a more permanent threaded belt loop. Velcro and eyelets for para-cord provide additional mounting choices. So what this means is that you can strap this sheath to your belt, leg, vest, pack, whatever you want. I like options in a sheath, and this one has plenty.
The sheath also has a large pocket on the outside for extra storage. What I like about this particular pocket is that it is removable – so, if you only want to carry the knife, you can. Additionally, the pocket has a belt loop so it can be strapped to you or your gear separately from the sheath. It’s not a bad little system and depending on what I am doing that day, I will sometimes use the pocket. For a relatively simple cordura sheath, Schrade has really put the time and effort into making the most of it.
For a “do it all” survival knife this blade really impressed me. You can tell a lot of thought went into getting the most out of a single tool. I can see this knife replacing a secondary small knife and a hatchet in those instances where you want to travel light. If you combine this with a survival saw and a fire steel you can accomplish most common survival tasks.