The goal of survival–no matter what the circumstances–is simple: stay alive. The means of survival follows a similar philosophy: do whatever it takes to stay alive, using common sense and, when possible, the best tools that serve that purpose. It follows then that the best survival tools are not only well-designed for survival purposes but also readily accessible. Let’s face it: the best survival tool on earth does you no good if not with you when you need it.
Survivalists will probably not argue against the importance of keeping a decent knife on one’s person at all times. What type of knife may be the subject of endless debate, but virtually all will agree that, in preparing for a survival situation, a durable sharp blade of some kind resides at the top of most “must have” lists. Enter the Emerson La Griffe BT, a short, lightweight, simple, and durable knife that’s worn around the neck on a chain.
The blade is a quarter-inch shy of two inches and the whole knife is just under five inches in length. In other words, there isn’t much to it. Could a minimalist knife such as the La Griffe be the ultimate “last ditch” survival tool?
- Handles: Skeletonized
- Blade: 154 CM
- Finish: Black oxide
- Grind: Razor Sharp Chisel Grind
- Overall length: 4.9 inches
- Blade length: 1.75 inches
- Blade thickness: .125 inches
- Hardness: 57-59 RC
- Weight: 1.5 ounces
- Designed by Fred Perrin
Emerson Knives bills itself as the “#1 hard use knives in the world” and most reviews prove that to be true. The La Griffe (“claw”) knife, despite simply being a single piece of well-machined metal, exudes the highest quality in both form and function. It’s tougher than nails while being an exercise in thoughtful design. From the oversized finger hole to the balanced handle and curved blade, the La Griffe perfectly executes its mission to pierce, cut, and slash. But that’s only when out of its plastic sheath. Snapping safely into its plastic sheath, it awaits deployment by a firm tug. When finished, it clicks securely into the sheath.
The La Griffe’s chisel-edged blade made short work of rope, sticks, wood, thin wire, and some metals. Putting a finger through the oversized finger hole allows you to put a thumb on the top of the blade while grasping the handle with the rest of the hand. In short, you get a lot of grip to manipulate a short, stocky blade. This provides more leverage when cutting, well, anything.
Neither the sheath nor the metal chain showed any signs of fatigue or strain despite regular deployment of the La Griffe.
Deploying the La Griffe can be a two handed operation: one hand holds the sheath while the other pulls the blade out of it. It seemed safer, however, to deploy with just one hand, allowing the chain around your neck to hold the sheath. Granted, tugging a knife out of a sheath demands care as the blade is quickly exposed. But we’re dealing with survival situations where the instant, one-handed deployment of a blade may mean the difference between life and death.
Worn around the neck and under a shirt, as a neck knife ought to be, the La Griffe affords the user an easily carried tool or concealed weapon.
With a retail price of $110.95, the La Griffe is definitely an investment, one that may be too far out of reach for the average outdoorsperson. Potential buyers will have to consider, however, what it’s worth to have a very high quality, highly reliable knife that can be worn in and survive in virtually any environment. An Emerson La Griffe will probably be the last neck knife anyone would ever need to buy.
Emerson’s La Griffe is a design from Fredric Perrin, a French knifemaker, French Army veteran, and survival expert. The La Griffe, or variations of it, are used all over the world in a variety of environments and situations. Initially some might consider a neck knife a bit extreme, preferring instead a folding knife to clip inside a pocket. A few minutes with the La Griffe, however, will prove the profound simplicity and functionality of this knife’s design. And if having a blade at the ready is one key to survival, the La Griffe may be the best tool to serve that purpose.
Images by Mark Kakkuri