There is no one size fits all…
We know that there’s no one size fits all for any given situation, and with knives in emergency situations the pattern holds true. When we think of knives outside of a culinary setting for the vast majority of people they fall into one of three categories: every day knives (EDC), Rescue tools/knives, and Survival knives.
For those not well versed in this category we’re going to be going through a 3 part series on these different kinds and what we look for in each so that you can be confident should you ever find yourself shopping for one.
When we discuss rescue knives, there tends to be some confusion on what we mean as it can be commonly confused with survival knives or multi-tools (both are other articles.) When we refer to a rescue knife we’re specifically addressing a tool that will help you get out of a limited problem and not a full survival event.
Setting the scene with a car crash.
(If you’ve been in a traumatic crash you may want to skip this)
For the purposes of this article I’ll use a crash analogy. There was an article already in January of this year (this article written in March) talking on how many car crashes have already happened.
Let’s say it’s late in the evening, you’re driving home from a work event that ran long when the tire blows and the vehicle runs into a guard rail. Once the vehicle comes to a complete stop, luckily you’re alright however the seatbelt is now locked and the battery emergency disconnect has triggered killing power to the vehicle. The loss of power has killed the door locks, but the force didn’t damage the shatterproof glass.
It’s safe to say that in this moment that the fixed blade survival knife in the sheath clipped to the bag in your trunk isn’t the best possible tool for this situation. Yours may be fantastic at starting fires, and the fishing hooks in the handle could be helpful later but right now you just need to get free of the seatbelts.
This is where rescue tools come to… well… the rescue. In an emergency situation the needs you have of your tools can lie vastly different than a survival situation. In this case a seatbelt cutter, a glass breaker, a regular knife, and maybe a fire extinguisher are probably all you require. While I’ve never seen a knife with a fire extinguisher in it (if you know of one let me know!), most rescue knives can do the rest of those jobs just fine.
What we look for in a Rescue Tool.
If you skipped the above bit, welcome back! Ok the big things we look for in rescue tools really boil down to three main pieces: the knife itself, a seat belt cutter, and some form of glass punch.
When it comes to rescue tool the very first thing that we look at generally is the knife. The main reason is that it’s the one part of the tool that will receive the most use. We recommend that these tools be something that you’re comfortable using daily. If the size is tool large or the knife itself is too soft (see Rockwell Hardness) then we don’t trust the other pieces should you need them.
Are you a right or left handed user?
Another reason we start with the knife first is to make sure that it fits right for you hand. I don’t mean size wise, but is it set up correctly for you if you’re right or left handed. If you’re left handed then a knife system set for right handed users becomes much more difficult to access and use (like swinging the handle to break glass with the punch). Most manufacturers think in terms of the use of the knife first and foremost so it’s the most logical place for us to start as well.
The Seat belt cutter
We’ve gotten a couple of questions on why you would need a seat belt cutter over just using the knife itself. This is a very fair question. Our answer boils down to this. If this is an every day carry tool for you then likely the knife blade will get worn down or dull (you’d never let a knife get dull right? if so we can help you get a sharpener!) A seatbelt cutter has two distinct advantages over the standard knife blade.
First is that is likely won’t be dull from repeated use on various different kinds of material. Also the main blade might be serrated. While helpful in some circumstances this isn’t one of them. In this situation you want a straight and sharp blade to help you cut as quickly as possible and as cleanly as possible.
Second, I want to be able to pull on the handle. The biggest advantage that strap cutters have over the main blade is that they are incorporated into the knife handle. That means when slide a seatbelt that has tension on it, into the belt cutter you won’t have to apply much force to get it to cut. If you do have to apply more force, then your hand applying force is right next to the connection point.
The Glass Punch.
That nub on the bottom of the handle, no it’s not a hardness tester, it’s a glass breaker. Materials used to be better in emergency situations have gotten better over time, that said the idea behind vehicle windows is to make them stronger and use shatterproof glass/shatter resistant glass.
While that window is great for not breaking into a million pieces, how do we get past it when the locks don’t work and the doors won’t open? this is where your breaker comes in handy. Typically its design means that you’ll need to swing the handle with force to hit the numb to the glass to break it, however you’ll be able to escape.
What about other tools?
There are a lot of different tools on the market that could fit this use. It is our recommendation that whichever you choose fits with the general guide of above. That said nothing is guaranteed to work all of the time, we don’t have the ability to say this one is specific works best.
Don’t let an emergency situation keep you from rescue!
We talk about self rescue a lot around here. Having the right indispensable tool available to you for the right job is paramount. We hope a shatterproof glass window is never between you and safety and that you’ll never need the knowledge. If you do, we hope you have the equipment available to you to get to safety!
Let us know in the comments below what kind of rescue tool you carry! If you’re looking for our recommended survival knives then follow the link below and we’ll give you our favorites!
Have You checked out our ruixin pro package?
“Wow I’m in love. I have been getting WAY better results than I thought, these are RAZOR SHARP. It’s almost scary. The sharpening process is fun and satisfying as well! Just order a new pair of better stones and I’m very excited.“Earnst P.
Frequently Asked Questions.
Q: Will my Victorinox rescue tool, fox knives, etc. work well as a rescue tool?
A: We don’t recommend any one specific brand. As far as multi-tools or Swiss army setups, there’s a lot to like. As long as you’re able to utilize it effectively in feasible scenarios without much hassle then we like it. Also currently we do not publish specific brand reviews at this time.
Q: Should I be worried about mine having a removable window breaker?
A: We have not done testing on a removable window breaker. If you can utilize if effectively and keep track of it when you need it then it meets our guidelines.
Q: Is a bottle opener important to have as a part of my rescue tool?
A: Past the three parts outlined above, there are any number of features that can come in handy. When looking at what features to have on any knife, we always look at what scenarios are feasible and would it be helpful and can we utilize it easy.
Q: Have you reviewed this particular item?
A: At the writing of this article we have not conducted and published specific item reviews in our content. We may do some by request in the future.