A knife is any cutting edge or blade, handheld or otherwise, with or without a handle. There are many different types of knives.
Knives are valuable in any survival situation. As they pertain to zombie outbreaks specifically, they lose much of their appeal as a weapon, since killing a zombie with a knife takes uncanny skill. Survival stories of all types have moments where their characters depend on a cutting tool when their nails and teeth just aren't sharp enough or strong enough to do the needed task.
While sharpness is an important factor, most survivors will find that ease of use, sturdiness, and ease of storage are even more important than a razor sharp edge. Many knives can be sharpened by special sharpening rods or stones, however the effectiveness of these accessories depend on many factors, not least of which is the exact metal the knife is made out of. Serrated and un-serrated knives have their advantages and disadvantages, so seeking out a knife with sections of both (such as a Bowie knife) may be desirable.
Types of Knives
Knives as Weapons
As a weapon, the knife is less than ideal in a zombie-filled environment, even against other humans. However, all combat knives can have uses as tools, and are typically superior to household cutlery in all ways:
- Bayonet: A knife-shaped close-quarters fighting weapon designed to attach to the muzzle of a rifle or similar weapon.
- Combat knife: Any knife intended to be used mainly for fighting.
- Throwing knife: A knife designed and weighted for throwing. For obvious reasons, throwing a knife is not advised for most survivors, especially if they depend on the knife, and it is thrown somewhere perilous to retrieve it.
- Trench knife: Purpose-made or improvised knives, intended for close-quarter fighting, particularly in trench warfare in World War I characterized by a d-shaped integral hand guard. Somewhat uncommon. The best possible Trench Knife would be a trench spike, for its 8-inch spike was designed specifically to penetrate hard metal helmets and the skull beneath (one could imagine how effective it would be when stabbing a zombie's skull) and the handle has built-in brass knuckles that allow the user to bash an oncoming zombie.
- Shiv: A crudely made homemade knife out of everyday materials, especially prevalent in prisons among inmates. An alternate name in some prisons is "shank".
- Machete: These fall on the large side, but because a good machete can do almost all the jobs a knife can do, it is worth mentioning. there are many varieties, but the Gurkha kukri is an international favorite.
- Ballistic Knife: These Knives are used for launching out at or shooting at people.
Knives as Tools
As a utility tool, the knife can take many forms.
- Bowie knife: originated as a specific type of point designed for penetration and strength, it has lost that meaning and now commonly, refers to any large sheath knife.
- Butterfly knife: A folding knife, also known as a balisong, with two handles counter-rotating around the tang such that, when closed, the blade is hidden within the handles.
- Diver's knife: A knife adapted for use in diving and water sports and a necessary part of the standard diving dress.
- Electrician's knife: An insulated knife used to cut electrical wire.
- Hunting knife: A knife used to dress large game.
- Linoleum knife: is a small knife that has a short, stiff blade with a curved point and a handle and is used to cut linoleum or other sheet materials.
- Machete: A large heavy knife used to cut through thick vegetation such as sugar cane or jungle undergrowth; it may be used as an offensive weapon. Machetes can be thought of a sword-sized knife.
- Multitool: Customarily with a knife as its most elemental feature, these tools may include a variety of other tools. Made famous by the Swiss Army Knife, and leatherman.
- Pocket knife: Also known as a multi-tool or jackknife, a knife which may contain several folding blades, as well as other tools.
- Scalpel: A medical knife, used to perform surgery. not recommended for combat.
- Straight razor: A reusable knife blade used for shaving hair.
- Survival knife: A sturdy knife, sometimes with a hollow handle filled with survival equipment. avoid inexpensive models for their tendency to break.
- Switchblade: A knife with a folding blade that springs out of the grip when a button or lever on the grip is pressed. Although it is illegal in some places, some states allow ownership of one.
- Utility knife: A short knife with a replaceable triangular blade, used for cutting sheet materials including cardboard boxes. Not typically used for combat, but very useful for other tasks.
- Wood carving knife: Knives used for wood carving, often with short, thin replaceable blades for better control.
- X-Acto knife: A scalpel-like knife with a long handle and a replaceable pointed blade, used for precise, clean cutting in arts and crafts.
For use against zombies, the ideal knife is one specifically made for fighting or combat. The blade should be about five inches long and not serrated. While it may seem easy to stab into a zombie's head, the human skull is more durable than one might expect (although, natural decaying of the flesh and bones will weaken them). Therefore, some strikes may not even pierce through to the brain, or the blade may get stuck; not having serrations aids in more easily pulling out of bone. The easiest places to use a knife against a zombie are under the jaw and the back of the head. An upwards thrust through the lower jaw and mouth avoids the skull entirely, although one must get very close to the target, and the motion cumbersome and unnatural. A person can use their superior speed to dodge a zombie lunge and move around behind it to stab right into the brain stem. If a knife's blade is long enough it can get through and reach the brain wherever it enters the head, but other spots require more effort to stab through. Slashing with a knife against a zombie should be discounted against practically all other options.