Backpacking Gear Review: British Army Pattern MoD Survival Knife
Why a "survival" knife?
Anyone who travels, and doesn't completely rely on civilization to provide what they need, carries a knife. Everyone has their own way of surviving, whether it's backpacking Europe and camping now and again, or going out on full-blown treks or buschcraft adventures - and their knife choice reflects that.
Some people will choose a small, light, packable knife that completes the basics with efficiency, and some of us want a rugged, bomb-proof, beast of a knife that can be used for a wide variety of purposes - and thus appears the British Army MoD (Ministry of Defense) survival knife.
Commonly known as simply a "MoD knife," this beast is your stereotypical survival knife. It is comprised of a full-tang (this means the entire length of the knife is one piece of metal), 7 inch long, 6 inch wide, carbon steel blade, a riveted wooden handle, and a weight of just over one pound. This is definitely heavier than many of the other knives out there, but like I said, this thing is rugged.
The MoD knife was issued out to the British Army, and RAF (as part of their survival kit), and is still a very popular knife among servicemen. Even the SAS has been known to have a love-affair with this knife. That being said, this is the kind of tool that most people either hate or love.
Why consider this knife?
The main selling point for me was ruggedness, and it's multi-purpose use. I bought this for backpacking and camping uses, nothing too extreme, but I still wanted a knife that I couldn't break, even if I tried. This blade excels at chopping wood, hammering, digging, basic cutting, basic defense, cutting up kindling, processing meat, and pretty much anything else that requires a non-too-precise blade. I like to think of it as a mini machete, or a mini axe. Both of which are much too big and noticeable for a hitchhiker, or any other kind of backpacker.
So far I have only used this knife for batoning wood, for a fire. Without a doubt, it worked excellently. I was surprised at how fine and fast this thing cut through wood, with just the initial, factory-sharp blade.
MoD survival knife video review
Why it may not be right for you
As I stated above, not everyone loves this knife - and with good reason. This thing is quite heavy compared to other knives, the blade is thick and will definitely not work too well for 'finer' knife work, and it's a fair bit expensive (The cheapest I have seen these is around $80). It really depends on what exactly you need the knife for, so everyone will be different, and the decision is yours.
- Vancouver Tactical Supplies - British Army Pattern Survival Knife
A Vancouver based company that sells a couple varieties of the MoD knife. This is where I bought mine from
There are a countless number of different blades in this world, for a lot of different tasks. Even for one task, a big part of choosing the 'right' knife, is knowing how you personally operate, and prefer to use your blades.
So for those who want a bomb-proof, army-proven, multi-use survival knife - and don't mind a little bit of extra weight, I highly recommend at least getting your hands on one of these knives. Personally, i'm in love with mine. I like a heavy knife, it feels better in the hand, and being able to use a knife for hammering, batoning, digging, chopping, and whatever else, is just a really comforting thought. It's like always having your crazy, resourceful friend around. And for many, that's rung very true indeed.
Buyers note: Be wary of imitations. If the knife does NOT have the NSN (Nato Stock Number) 4240-99-127-8214, then it's not an official issue MoD knife. that doesn't mean it won't be good, but it's obviously better to stick with the original. Reproductions are rarely as good as the originals. Additionally, the markings "JA" (Jay Adams - manufacturer), followed by a number (my knife is 1993 - the year it was made), accompany the NSN.