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Batoning refers to the technique of pushing a blade through the wood by repetitively striking it using a wooden baton. It is usually used for splitting logs and other wooden chunks for kindling by accessing the internal dry area and for creating boards, slats, and shingles.
This bushcraft and survival technique is an alternative to wood chopping using an ax or a hatchet. It is very useful for taking the dry wooden core of a wet log for making firewood.
Why Not Just Use an Ax or Hatchet Instead of Batoning With Knife?
Why not simply use a light hatchet instead of putting a survival tool at risk by hammering it? Well, some people believe that batoning is stupid and a hatchet or an ax is a more effective way. According to them, batoning with a knife is abusing it, as it can break the knife.
However, the truth is that your knife will not break if you have chosen the one meant for batoning and if you know the right technique to baton. Indeed, there are some reasons why the best batoning knife wins over the best ax or hatchet.
- Safety: Using an ax requires you to be quite careful. A missed strike may result in a leg injury. It is also indispensable to be aware and think of the safety of people passing nearby. However, with a batoning knife, there is no injury risk involved. Unlike an ax, the knife’s sharp edge is not swung around, due to which it is more difficult to injure yourself. Further, in the case of limited space, you need not worry about harming others with an unintentional strike. Thus, batoning with a knife is a safer method, especially if you have no experience of swinging an ax. If you are uncomfortable using an ax, try batoning.
- Efficiency: A kind of chopping block is essential to get the most out of a hatchet or an ax. In its absence, using one of the tools becomes more strenuous. On the soft ground, the presence of stones may damage the edge. Further, much swing energy of yours would transfer via the wood to be divided and vanish into the dirt. On the other hand, batoning with a knife works efficiently even on any hard surface surrounding you. This is because your energy goes exactly where it is required.
- Split Support: The wood that you wish to split can be placed on a stump. This works well for cut logs. However, what if the log does not stand on it for chopping via an ax or a hatchet? On the other hand, distorted ends do not cause any issue while batoning with a knife.
- Weight: Obviously, the best knife for batoning wood is lighter and more packable than an ax or a hatchet.
In short, if you are comfortable handling the additional weight and packaging space, a small hatchet is fine. It is, after all, built to bear the abuse. Nevertheless, it is good to know the technique of batoning with a knife, as not every time you will be carrying an ax or hatchet.
You can easily position the knife with precision on the wood and then hit it using a baton. However, you will have to swing a hatchet or an ax and then just see whether it hits the intended mark or not. With an ax or a hatchet, it is difficult to hit the limbs of small diameter precisely.
The Ideal Knife for Batoning Wood
Not any fixed blade knife will help you efficiently in batoning wood. This is because not all knives are designed to endure the abuse of this tough job. So, using a suitable knife for this survival task is indispensable.
Interestingly, you can baton using any full-tang knife having a fixed blade, provided the blade is strong and enduring enough to withstand repeated hitting and batoning.
Those with full tangs, meaning where the knife’s metal goes beyond the blade and via the full handle, are considered ideal for this task. This is because they are less likely to break or get damaged if the batoning technique is performed right.
The size of the best batoning knife relies on the width of the log or wood that is to be split. The blade’s edge should be approximately two to three inches longer than what the log’s diameter is. This is because a longer blade is a more versatile blade than a shorter one.
That being said, a thicker, longer blade is recommended for experiencing an easier process with a single versatile knife for batoning. It is possible to split the wood of small size with a longer blade even though this can be somewhat tricky. Nevertheless, a shorter blade will not baton thicker wood pieces.
It is vital to note that the blade’s thickness hardly makes a difference, unlike the blade’s length. Still, if you have an option, choose a thicker blade to make the task easier.
You may think that having a rigid handle for batoning is important. However, such a handle is likely to trigger awkward vibrations at the time of striking with a baton, usually a heavy piece of wood. On the other hand, a handle wrapped using rubber or other synthetic material absorbs the shocks quite well.
Therefore, the best knife for batoning needs to possess a handle made using a synthetic material. In case the knife you want to have does not have a synthetic handle, consider covering it with a synthetic material to minimize the vibrations.
Best Batoning Knives in 2022
ESEE ESJUNGLAS-BRK Black
This one is a big beast for big outdoor tasks. Originally designed for counter-narcotics campaigns and Latin American forest environments as a cross between a machete and a fixed blade knife, the Junglas is now also the choice of woodsmen and adventurers across the globe.
The knife is ideal for tough jobs wherein a big, but a light knife is required. The credit for this goes to the 3/16-inch thick and 10-inch long blade. Although light, this knife has a lot of power to help in all camping tasks as well as big jobs a bushcrafter may require.
The width of the blade is significant from the edge to the spine, and its razor-sharp edge is honed to almost 20 degrees. The blade is made using 1095 carbon steel, a top choice for hard-use cutlery. This steel is admired for retaining its edge well, being tough, and resisting wear and corrosion only if it is maintained well. So, you need to keep the blade clean as well as lubricated.
The highly renowned heat treat process of Rowen makes this steel blade hold its edge outstandingly well. The textured powder coat on the blade adds to the lifespan of the blade by keeping wear and tear away.
The durable micarta handle delivers both style and comfort. Its smooth contouring takes care of the ergonomics. The triple-riveted handle is removable, though. There is also a dull hammer pommel as well as a lanyard hole for easy carry.
This knife is shipped with an ambidextrous Kydex sheath having an adjustable steel screw to ensure an ideal fit of the knife inside. You also get a heavy-duty Cordura nylon backing with a flexible snap retainer. The holes allow storing a paracord by enfolding surrounding the sheath and via the open holes.
Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife
This mora knife has almost everything that the best batoning knife would have. It is a pleasure to use it in the field. Apart from wood shaving, spine scraping, and carving, this knife makes batoning through medium and small sticks a breeze.
Thanks to its full-tang design that is required for heavy-duty outdoor jobs. The blade is designed using the popular Swedish steel Sandvik 14C28N, which is known for its high hardness, corrosion resistance, extreme sharpness, and outstanding toughness.
The right amount of materials makes it a fire steel striker while defending from the harsh elements. The spine of this blade is ground to work with a fire starter. It is left unpolished so that it can work well as a striker with fire steel.
This flat spine is certainly more comfortable while using it for a few cutting methods. The Scandi-grind edge is powerful enough to bite into the material surface while keeping slipping at bay.
The polyamide handle is tough and resistant to impact. At its bottom, a small lanyard hole exists through which you can thread a cord for having a lanyard loop.
On the butt, the pommel contributes to an extra surface for striking and scraping. It simply adds to the knife’s versatility. You also get a leather sheath.
At 9.6 ounces, this Mora knife is heavy enough to do the batoning without weighing you down or breaking.
Ka-Bar BK-22 Becker Companion
This is another batoning beast to consider! You can determine its power from the fact that it is used by the American military’s all five branches and law enforcement groups across the globe.
The Companion’s blade is the true workhorse. Its light and 5.2-inch long body is made using 1095 Cro-van steel, a material known for toughness and hardness. Keep in mind that it will not resist corrosion. Luckily, the blade is coated to ensure easier maintenance and keep corrosion in control.
The thickness of 1/4 of an inch makes this tool sturdy and hefty while in your hand. The blade comes sharp right out of the box. With this high-quality blade that is also known to retain its edge after cutting, batoning, and chopping, you can expect it to work exceptionally well for everything needed for the campfire grill.
The knife is not light, but it is reliable for any camping task. It is certainly designed for brute jobs such as cutting thick plastic, chopping wood, or any other task that a hatchet can perform. It is also designed to be the only camping knife to have!
You can easily split wood into smaller chunks for igniting or preparing food. For this, the thick blade is responsible. A thick blade is not ideal for more precise tasks like wood carving, but this Becker blade proves this wrong.
The Zytel handle is quite comfortable, while the sheath is lasting and versatile. The handle comes with top/bottom guards to ensure grip and sturdiness. The sheath is made up of heavy-duty polyester to keep this beast safe and clean.
The BK22 gets your survival tasks done easily, whether it is prying, chopping, or split batoning.
Schrade SCHF52M Frontier
This Schrade knife, with a Ferro rod, full-tang design, lanyard hole, and a sharpening stone, has been designed for sustaining in extreme survival situations. Its somewhat heavy body features a medium-sized 7-inch long blade made using 1095 high-carbon steel, a popular alloy that is admired for its hardness, great edge retention, and ease of sharpening.
All these three features are ideal for survival and bushcraft blades. However, it makes the blade vulnerable to corrosion and rust if proper care, in terms of keeping it dry and lubricating it, is not taken. The blade is thick from pommel to tip and thicker at its broadest part.
The full-tang, wide design delivers all the rigidity and strength needed from a survival knife. The heavy-duty blade is well-balanced so that it can pry, dig, chop, and baton without any damage. It features a solid tip, drop-point style, somewhat compound bevel, deep hollow grind, and a stout 90° spine, all giving a shape ideal for heavy bushwhacking jobs.
The ambidextrous handle has scales made using durable micarta with a rough pattern, giving a superb grip even if it is wet. Its attachment to the full-tang blade is such that it can absorb shocks while batoning or chopping.
The finger choil is larger in front of the fingerguard to ensure great control over the blade while performing fine jobs such as feathering sticks. At the end of the handle, the pommel has a lanyard through hole for a paracord tether. It is smooth enough to be used for gentle hammering.
You also get a belt sheath made using polyester, within which the knife fits easily. It is only for right-hand carry, though.
A small pouch on the sheath’s front side has a sharpening stone and a Ferro rod with a Velcro flap and an elastic band for holding them well. The Ferro rod works very well with the right-angled spine to give sufficient fire sparks.
Cold Steel 49LCK SRK – Best Budget Batoning Knife
This one, although affordable, is a quite solid and powerful fixed knife for batoning and other survival chores. The abbreviation, SRK, is a short form of Survival Rescue knife. So, its name only indicates that this is a knife meant to be used for survival in adverse situations.
According to the manufacturer, this knife has been made to give the toughest versatile survival knife to the seekers. With this in mind, its blade is both tactical and tactical, which even the Military and Special Forces personnel have embraced.
This knife is also a part of the B.U.D.S training for its versatility and longevity even in the worst conditions. The sharp blade is made using SK-5 high-carbon steel, a Japanese version of the American 1080. SK-5 is one of the preferred choices for making hand tools such as woodcutting saws and chisels.
The steel is known for its high hardness, great toughness, abrasion resistance, and superior edge holding ability, all of which are essential for tough tasks like batoning and chopping wood. Being carbon steel, it does not resist corrosion well, but the blade’s coating and regular maintenance from your side will help you regulate it.
The 6-inch long and 5mm-thick blade has a clip point, a swedged tip, and a Tuff-Ex coat for non-reflection, all of which make batoning easy. It also features a thin grind that maintains a good balance between hardness and cutting action.
The Kray-Ex handle comes with a finger guard and checkered texturing to ensure a secure grip even in wet conditions. It also has a lanyard hole. The sturdy Secure-Ex holster has been made functional with a press-stud so that you do not drop your knife. You also get a secure-Ex sheath with several grommets and lashing slots.
When to Baton Using a Knife?
Here are some conditions or reasons based on which you should consider using a knife for batoning:
- If your knife is made to baton or your knife is a big chopper with a big sturdy blade designed to swing as quick and as robustly as possible at wood with a bit of harmless tapping on the spine
- If you need a wooden plank
- If your knife is more than an inch longer than the separation you want or else the blade will get stuck
- If there are larger lumber pieces that are above 4 inches in diameter
Note: A folding knife is usually not ideal for batoning. However, some folders are strong enough to handle this beating. But we strongly recommend full tang fixed blade knives.
When NOT to Baton Using a Knife?
Here are some conditions or reasons based on which you should not choose a knife for batoning:
- If your knife is the only survival or outdoor tool despite being less susceptible to breakage
- If you already have a good ax and know how to use it safely
- If your knife is not a full tang fixed blade; otherwise, batoning would become detrimental with rigorous shocks
- If the chosen lumber is extremely difficult to split, especially some hardwoods and woods with deformations and knots
- If your knife is a valuable collector’s item
Indeed, batoning with a knife is quite safer in terms of swinging than doing so using an ax or a hatchet, especially when people are passing nearby. The best batoning knife is the one with a fixed and thick blade, full tang, and a solid handle made using a synthetic material.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.