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Backpacking Gear Review: British Army Pattern MoD Survival Knife

A traveler at heart, I write articles and reviews related to my many adventures in backpacking and hitchhiking.

The classic MoD survival knife

The classic MoD survival knife

Who Needs a MoD 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 its multi-purpose uses. 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.

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.

Final Thoughts

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 rings 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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


4688 on August 30, 2016:

On my second one as I gave my first to a friend. There one of the best survival knifes about (YES BOMB PROOF) I have seen them with the old style wooden handles that have been broken or had a big chip taken out of them but all the guys did was rap the handle in Paracord job done! Never seen anything done to brake the blade, chips & burrs but nothing we couldn't sharpen out. This is my favorite survival knife.

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OutsideYourWorld (author) from Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada on May 14, 2012:

Jkiss, I got mine from

Again, i'm not sure where you live, so this might not be the cheapest website to buy it from. Depending on how you pay, they wont ask you for your age. I have never run into a website that asks me for my age.

JKiss on May 14, 2012:

@outsideyourworld, where did you buy your knife? And I'm 17 so I don't know if sheffield will actually try verifying how old I am =.

OutsideYourWorld (author) from Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada on May 14, 2012:

J Kiss, the answer I gave to Joseph works for you as well :)

OutsideYourWorld (author) from Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada on May 14, 2012:

@ joseph, Sheffield is a very well known knife manufacturer, and is definitely a good choice.. It really depends where you live. If you live in the United Kingdom, that would probably be your best bet. If you live in North America, like me, you might want to try ebay, or the Vancouver based website I listed on my hub. If you use the NSN in google, you should get more websites with the genuine knife.

J Kiss on May 09, 2012:

I was wondering if was a good website to order the MoD Survival Knife from? And if not where should I order it from?

Thank You

Joseph on May 09, 2012:

Hi, I had a question. Which sites do you recommend purchasing this knife from and is a good website to purchase this knife from?

OutsideYourWorld (author) from Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada on January 02, 2012:

Lol, a lot of people call things bomb proof, but I think this thing literally is.

It IS pretty much a mini machete or mini axe, but that's why I love it. The fact that it feels like a little sword is a nice feeling.

I used to have a Gerber LMF 2 (another survival knife), but I sold it so I could get this one.

Thanks for the comment!

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on January 02, 2012:

Bomb-proof knife? Rofl ... good to know.

That knife is gigantic and the blade looks really thick on it. It's more like a dagger lol or a mini-sword. Looks good for anything and everything though, I must admit.

I love my Gerber Gator (tried to post a link to it but Hub-pages doesn't like the Gerber website for some reason), had it for years and it works for me.

Another nice post! Cheers.