Good Rescue Knife???

Anyone have any recommendations for a good FIXED BLADE rescue knife that can be attached to a PFD lash tab—preferably one with a blunt tip.

I bought one of the Gerber models, but I am not sure about it as it seems like the sheath does not hold it very securely and I would be afraid of it coming out in rough water, and it does not fit too well through my PFD lash tab.




River Shorty
I have a Gerber River Shorty that I’ve had for years. It’s never been tethered, and just kept in the sheath, point-down. Haven’t lost it yet. It’s been in class III rapids, tidal races, big seas, you name it. Several epic trashings, too. I’ve used it for everything from spreading peanut butter to unjamming skegs, to fabricating emergency hatch covers. Luckily, I’ve never had to use it for it’s intended purpose…and I hope I never have to.

I may have just been lucky, who knows? But, I’ve found the sheath to be adequate so far.


Schrade WR1

– Last Updated: Dec-31-05 11:49 PM EST –

Wha Ho, Pilgrim;

I use a Schrade WR1 blunt tip. About $35. Decent sheath.

Fat Elmo

You will probably get as many opinions as there are knives out there. I really like my Benchmade River/Dive knife. It has a sort of blunt “sheepsfoot” tip and is quite secure in the sheath. The sheath is designed to mount on lash tabs, too. The blade is useful for a variety of applications in addition to rescue. You could actually use it for a daily carry utility knife. I have a Benchmade Elishewitz model that gets that honor, though. What can I say? I like a variety of blades for a variety of purposes.


I know almost nothing about
white water rescue, but you’ll be sawing a 6mm rope with that gerber long after a lagriffe wwr has cut it twice.

1.25 inches of cutting blade sharper than a jewelers eye, fingerhole that can take a dry glove and top quality steel; not a knockoff from taiwan.

Get the teclock sheath mount and you can move it from vest to vest in about a minute

The best thing is really sea snips from divers You can handle them with dry gloves. Make or modify your own sheath. Wayne Horodwich advocates for shears like this. Boeshield T9 will keep them shining.

Now if you are doing some fancy white water thing, like cutting a boat apart, that’s beyond my scope of knowledge but if you want to cut a 9mm rope with one swipe…

Rescue Hook
It can’t be used to spread peanut butter, but lies flat against the PFD strap and has a nice sheath that keeps it protected.


Hou might want to go to your local SCUBA shop and check out the dive knives they have available. They’re made to be in water a long time, intended to stay securely in their sheaths, and be fairly easy to release even with gloves on.

A lot of divers will wear one on the leg and one on the upper body. A knife can’t help rescue you if you can’t reach it.

Hope that’s helpful.


Whitewater or sea kayaking?

– Last Updated: Jan-01-06 12:18 PM EST –

For sea kayaking, you don't need a knife and it can be more of a liability than an asset, especially during rescues. I've had them pop out of their sheaths often enough that I no longer carry a knife on my PFD, for fear of ending up impaled or sliced open. A rescue hooks is a better solution. I've been carrying the Benchmade Model H2O for a while and I'm quite pleased with it.

Push Hard
I just got a blunt tip river shorty for CHRISTmas.

I had to push the knife in much harder than I thought would be necessary. No-way is it going to “fall out” in any kind of water.

Good knife, solid quick-release, $25
I got this McKnett?? “Class V” knife and sheath and it’s been behaving itself and staying in place in Class III-IV (and I’m not as good at staying upright as many, or just plain get too aggressive). Cuts rope pretty easily, has a sharp tip that could easily be blunted to one’s liking (it’s thin at the end). Especially for the price, I’ve been very impressed. Not the highest-quality stainless steel (a tiny bit of rusting around the handle after 3 months/ 8 runs), but it is nice otherwise:

I will be using sea snips AND the benchmade rescue hook.

Here is what I use

It is strapped to the shoulder harness of my PFD. Inexpensive, sharp, blunt point and instant access.

This is a taiwanese knock-off
of the lagriffe. Perhaps, if well protected, it might last in salt water, but maybe not. The lagriffe has a bigger finger hole, and no grips; it’s just a simple well engineered piece of steel. yeah well the lagriffe costs about twice as much $$

I am universally opposed to fingerholes

– Last Updated: Jan-02-06 5:07 AM EST –

on knives. Bad idea. I don't care if it's a karambit or a rescue hook. Putting your finger through a metal hole that can instantly be torqued any which way at any moment is a bad idea. Have you any idea how easy phalanges break?

As for sharpness, any knife is only as sharp as it is maintained. IMHO, factory edge is not a selling factor. The first thing I do with any new knife is put my own superior-to-any-factory edge on it. No SS blade is going to retain an edge very well. S30V is the best for edge retention of the SS I have seen, but still needs regular maitainence.

BTW, I would not call 154cm top quality steel...

What Rob said…
try a dive shop. Also, if possible, go with titanium.


154CM = low steel quality steel?

– Last Updated: Jan-02-06 9:26 PM EST –

Major edit:

I need to learn more about this
here is a page that describes it as a premium stainless. Note that it is the only stainless described with excellent toughness and edge quality.

Your finger hole critique may indeed have merit. My initial response is:

If my knife ever comes out of its sheath while I am paddling it is a second order emergency. That means that an unusual thing has happened (run into a line), then another unusual thing has happened, (Could not be avoided or released). So now, out comes a knife. I want control in that situation. NO I do not want a finger hole in my pry bar(or my kukrie), yes it might present an additional risk, even in a short knife. The risk to reward ratio must further evaluated. (A rescue hook and "bear Claw" would tend to torque over the finger if the hand relaxed. the finger hole on the Lagriffe is big but with dry gloves might lock up)

Out of the box sharpness:

I'll take my knives delivered sharp any day! (especially a serrated edge) I believe that should be a point of craftsman's pride. Buy a $22 knife, then spend an hour putting it right? Not for me. (I think that is a false economy). (Most people cannot sharpen a knife at all, some mistake a wire edge for sharpness, and you need some pretty interesting tools to sharpen the lagriffe, (narrow radius and and some angled serrations).

As for need to maintain, that can vary with design, quality of steel and use. We are talking serrated edges here. I've had the good fortune to test the edge on two very old japanese swords and one was quite sharp. (Tempering, microcarbides; we are getting deep here) I do not advocate using a rescue knife for any other purpose.

Yup On Ti
No rusting worries. Edge doesn’t hold as long but a rescue knife probably doesn’t get much usage anyway.

Diamond hone will sharpen Ti easily.


Blunt Tips Ti Rescue
personally, I prefer a knife with a tip, here you go:

There is also a Ti Rescue hook on page two, if you really afraid of any kind of tip.


Knife in the water – Not!

– Last Updated: Jan-02-06 9:18 AM EST –

One prominent coach/BCU 5-star I know relates a knife story that actually happened to a friend. The fellow was assisting someone on a reentry. The victim panicked and started clutching at the rescuer's upper body, accidentally grabbing the pfd-mounted knife and sending the blade across the rescuers throat. Luckily it made only a minor surface wound, but it obviously couldda been a lot worse.

Also, against knives is this -- the local AMC whitewater club had everyone bring their current knives to a meeting. Not a one of them could cut a line under practical conditions, that is, one-handed and without explicitly tensioning or folding the line.

Here's what I carry -- saw it in a local dive shop. It doesn't seem very common in the US, but I really like the design on a number of points.

Of course, I can't say I am pleased with it in more than a theoretical sense, since I haven't had to use it in combat and hope I never do. But I did test it in the store, and it cut a line great without needing any tension. I think that's due to the way the blade and the handle make a sharp V that grabs even a slack line nicely.

I remember my reaction when, as a beginner, I first saw someone with a knife on their pfd --- oooh, sexxxxy! 'Nuff said?


I have to ask…

– Last Updated: Jan-02-06 9:21 AM EST –

"Also, against knives is this -- the local AMC whitewater club had everyone bring their current knives to a meeting. Not a one of them was able to cut a line under practical conditions, that is, one-handed and without explicitly tensioning or folding the line."

Which club, who?

Dangerous scenarios with lines involved usually mean a line under some tension whether in white water or in a (bad) tow situation.

Someone panicking on an assisted reentry and grabbing a knife... Oh my... I think knife is to stab that person to get him/her off. Either scenario, I am sure, happens quite often. ;)