While going on an adventure or packing your emergency kit, it is advisable to carry your survival knife. While some prefer to use a plain edged knife as a survival knife, others prefer a serrated knife. The key factors that differentiate between both knives are the design and model.

As the name suggests, a plain edge knife has one of the sides of its edge plain, whereas, in a serrated edge knife, it has one of its edges jagged. This end is not smooth; rather it’s rugged and irregular.

A serrated knife is usually employed to cut through materials that are harder and tougher.

Purposes Of A Serrated Edge On A Survival Knife

As different knives serve different purposes, both the knives are helpful in various kinds of cuts. The way we cut an object is of two types broadly:

  • Push cut- In this method of cutting, the edge of the knife is pushed through the object to be cut. Few of the examples of push cuts that we come across in our day-to-day activities are peeling an apple, during shaving, chopping wood, trimming the nails, etc. Plain edge knives are usually employed for push cuts. They give clean cuts, high accuracy, and extreme control, regardless of push cuts or sliced cuts.
  • Slice cut- The cutting is usually done by dragging the edges of the knives across the object to be cut. Slicing tomato or meat are few of its examples. Sawing and slicing come under these cuts. Serrated knives are used to cut tough and hard surfaces and are employed for sliced cuts.

Serrated knives are used to grip the surfaces of the objects being cut. This provides rigidity and control as the serrated edges meet the objects initially and the pressure per area increases at these points. As serrated knives have chisel ground, they possess greater slicing abilities and thinner edge.

Knowing that both plain edge knife and serrated knife have their own advantages, one tends to ponder which knife is potentially the better survival knife. A survival knife can save your life if used in a proper manner, or it could be hazardous, otherwise. The knife has to be kept clean and sharp at all times as it can cause infections, otherwise, when used.

It is also important to note that the knife should not be moved in erratic manners. The default blade length must be around four to six inches. A shorter blade provides you with more flexibility to do small tasks, whereas a longer blade gives durability and more power.

A good survival knife must possess the following qualities:

  • Fixed blade
  • Blade thickness of about 0.125-0.25 inches.
  • Full Tang
  • Useful sheath
  • Lanyard hole
  • Jimping
  • Decorative Milling
  • Survival but not tactical

A serrated knife is very helpful in tearing through any thick rope, dressing of animals, cutting through hard surfaces, etc. They also cut through synthetic fibers and nylon webbings easily. A serrated knife is quite intimidating and is preferred by many as a primary defense. Hence, many people consider the serrated knife fit for the job of a survival knife.

Serrations can also be of various types like shallow and wide like Ontario Tak-1 or narrow and pointy like Booker plus Steel Mariner. Each one is used for different purposes, yet their essence remains the same. A serrated knife can be used in the following ways for survival:


In the wilderness environment, it might seem that a simple pocket knife is sufficient for basic food gathering tasks, but a serrated knife can come in handy while hunting or creating more hunting tools by cutting and sharpening through them.


Without proper shelter, a person is prone to dying faster out in the wild. A rugged knife can be used to cut saplings, limbs and stripping barks. In the absence of ropes or strings, one can cut through the fibers of plants to extract cordage useful for the construction of a shelter. This is usually employed by a serrated edge knife.


It can be used in carving a digging stick.


A serrated edge knife with its rugged properties can come in handy while gathering wood and making a fire. Fire building tools can also be constructed by a serrated knife.


A knife is used for making a small incision, cutting through bandages and making slings.


For navigation purposes, few knives are specially built with mini compasses in them. While crossing through a water body, a knife is especially used in building watercraft.

Benefits of a serrated knife are:

  • These knives require less maintenance as compared to plain edge knives.
  • The serrated edges stay sharp for a longer time, so the sharpening of the knife need not be very frequent.
  • These knives work the best for downward cuts.

A serrated knife must always be sharpened to get the most out it. Various tools are available for sharpening purposes like-

  1. Oil stones: They can either be natural stones or abrasives like silicon carbide or aluminum oxides. Coarse stones can be helpful in quicker removal of material
  2. Water stones- They use water as a lubricant in the place of oil. They cut faster and are less expensive than oil stones.
  3. Diamond stones- They contain microscopic level diamond crystals tightly bonded to the surface of steel plates.
  4. Ceramic stones- They can produce extremely sharp edges and are more expensive than oil stones. Their durability is quite high as compared to oil stones.

A serrated knife is also known as a saw-toothed knife. With its cutting-edge property, it has a smaller surface area as compared to a smooth knife. In general, they are employed when the materials to be cut are tough and fibrous. Most of the self-defense professionals prefer serrated edged knives as they cut flesh in an easy manner compared to other knives. Cuts made by a serrated knife are more precise than the ones made by a smooth blade. Though it’s a matter of preference, both plain edge and serrated knife come in handy at different times.