The fundamental difference between an authentic survival knife and all other knives is that a survival knife is designed to perform as many tasks and to serve as many of its users’ needs as it can, with unfailing reliability. It must retain its sharpness for as long as possible and it must never, ever break, because that unforgivable failure could turn the tables in any wilderness or urban survival situation from tolerable to life threatening.
Enter Schrade’s latest addition to its Extreme line of survival knives, the SCHF9. Designed by Tactical Knives’ own Brian Griffin, the SCHF9 deserves to have a classier name because it would be a shame if this brute were overlooked by anyone in the market to buy a truly hardcore survival knife. The SCHF9 is built on the formidably solid foundation of a 6.4-inch (16.2mm) thick blade crafted from SAE 1095 high-carbon (“spring”) steel—the same alloy that gave the Marine Corps combat/utility knife its reputation for sharpness and reliability (I understand Brian had to argue with the knifemaker for some time before they would use plain carbon steel over the more common stainless alloys). But the Schrade begins with a notable advantage by being made from more homogenous stock, and hardened by processes that didn’t yet exist when the USMC knife was government issue. (Note that some early Schrade sales literature mistakenly identified the SCHF9’s blade steel as 1070, but Taylor Brands, LLC has assured TK that it is, in fact, 1095.)
The feature my survival-instructor eye found most impressive was a blade thickness that measured .240-inch along its spine, giving the SCHF9 a backbone normally reserved for heavy forest machetes and entry/rescue tools that are meant to pry open damaged car doors. That mass, in combination with the already proven toughness, strength, and hardness of the original mass-produced spring steel gives the 15.9-ounce SCHF9 a more than passing grade in the category of brute strength.