View Full Version : 3" vs 4" bladed knife

08-19-2011, 12:58 AM
Hi all,
I could use the collective experience of the forum. For bushcraft/survival what are the pros/cons of a 3" vs a 4" bladed knife?


08-19-2011, 01:00 AM
Theres really not a big difference, just depends on how and what you use the blade for. My Mora is a 4 inch blade and it does everything i need. But then i have a 3 inch becker necker that can do everything my Mora can. Only difference to me is 1 extra inch. Can still baton with a 3 inch blade, make fuzz sticks and do some carving, same as a 4 inch.

As i said, its all in how and what you use the blade for. More experience folks will have better answers, just my two cents.


08-19-2011, 01:03 AM
4 inches if you are ever going split with it, 3 inches if you aren't. Just my experience.

08-19-2011, 01:14 AM
I like a 4" blade because I have big hands and don't do much fine work. I don't really care about the size of a blade for carry concerns. I'm 6'2"; an extra inch of knife blade isn't going to weigh me down any.

3" blades are nice for finer carving work" fuzz sticks, spoons, small trap triggers, etc...IMHO. Easier to handle for close-in, fine work.

Basically, I carry a longer 4"-ish fixed blade and a 3"=ish folding knife. Big knife for heavy, coarse work and small folder (SAK) for those detailed things.

Bravo Tango
08-19-2011, 01:21 AM
The difference between a 4" or 3" blade on a knife to me is really only what is more comfortable for you to handle.

08-19-2011, 01:58 AM
I had this issue, I concluded a 4" blade is just more handy

08-19-2011, 02:40 AM
I prefer 4" for a general purpose knife. 5" is about the upper limit of a knife for my taste, but I wouldn't feel too limited with a 3" blade for most cutting tasks.

Old Philosopher
08-19-2011, 03:09 AM
All my fixed blades are 4 1/2" to 5 1/2". Worked fine for me for years. My folder is 3 3/4". Anything smaller is a novelty, or a paring knife, IMO. :D

08-19-2011, 03:42 AM
A 4 in blade will do anything a 3 in blade will do. (yep, I really did say that. :-) )

As a EDC in my area, 4 in will get me busted, 3 3/4 and no issues.

Now, outside of the criteria of the thread - length of blade - I think the bigger question might be the ability of the blade to withstand hard use in a tough situation. If you are stuck trying to make tinder from 1 1/2 dry, knotty oak limbs, a weak blade of any length might fail. I had a great slicing blade, 8 in that is now 4 in because a tough knot took a thumb-nail-width chunk right out of it. (Now it's a great slicer, 4 in and very well balanced.)

I'm not real experienced - unless damaging blades counts. I could have been more careful or clever splitting the limb, and used another stick as a sideways wedge once I got the split started. I've bent my Mora, and straightened it right out again. Now my boys and I are looking to 3 or 4 in blades that handle abuse better....just in case.

Bill Cox
08-19-2011, 05:41 AM
Personally I find my self carrying a 4 1/2 in Rat 5 recently. Before I have use a Rat 3 with a 3in blade, while the rat 3 was better for finer work like carving I prefer to carry a blade
4 1/2 to 6 1/2 inch blade which can do finer work along with the ability to handle haeavy camp chores like processing firewood or building a shelter.

Thanks Bill

08-19-2011, 05:56 AM
I prefer a 3" knife. It's a lot more controllable, and beyond baton-splitting 2+inch wood I haven't found anything any advantage to the 4-incher. It also happens to be more non-knife-people-friendly. However I can get a 4" Mora for 2.50, so I have several of those scattered in toolkits and cupboards.

Two Rivers
08-19-2011, 06:05 AM
Personally I prefer nothing over 4" blade. Anything longer is really useless for anything a knife is designed for in the field. Loss of control. 3" are ok but appreciate a 4". It doesnt take much blade to skin and process game or do camp chores. Anything less than the 3-4" blades in question are a novelty. Why not just carry a 3-4" backup. Much more useful. Any longer for "batoning", meaning the wood is more than a 4" diam., ( Not the intended purose of a knife anyway ) may as well have a hatchet or preferably an ax. I'm just most comfortable with a 4" fixed blade.

08-19-2011, 06:27 AM
I like a blade that is between 4.25 and 4.5 inches depending on the design. Anything shorter limits my slicing cuts-I run out of blade material before I run out of power in my push.

08-19-2011, 06:57 AM
I had this issue, I concluded a 4" blade is just more handy

Then why does the 3 have more use? jk i kid, i kid

for me the only difference is batoning. i prefer a smaller blade for wood work.

08-19-2011, 07:09 AM
I prefer a larger knife. You can do everytign you can do with a larger knife that you can do with a smaller knife. But if you have a smaller knife and need the extra blade length, you don,t have it.

08-19-2011, 07:15 AM
I prefer a larger knife. You can do everytign you can do with a larger knife that you can do with a smaller knife. But if you have a smaller knife and need the extra blade length, you don,t have it.


I really prefer the big knife/small knife combo with lengths varying according to environment--in town a 2" and 3 1/2 or 4" folder. Woods 4" and up to 9".

You go to South America and (I am told) they can do everything with a machete.:44:

08-19-2011, 07:31 AM
depending on the particular blade, it's grind, bevel, material, handle, shape..........either will work just fine.

08-19-2011, 11:28 AM
Either is good. I prefer a 3" for ease of handling, but the feel of a knife in your hand is the thing. I prefer smaller knives. I disagree with several of the guys about knives under 3" being a novelty though. I have used those shorter blades a lot, and they're very capable. They don't baton like larger knives, but when did batonning become the measure of a knife? There are literally thousands of uses for a good knife, but most people seem to measure it's worth based on it's ability to be batonned. I disagree.

08-19-2011, 11:42 AM
I would say to split the diference with a 3.5 inch knife.
It will handle almost anything that the 4 inch knife will, and being under 4 inches, is legal for EDC in most areas.

I highly reccomend the Marttiini M571, it is much like a Mora 510, but with a 3.5 inch blade, and thicker spine.

08-19-2011, 11:54 AM
Minimum for me is a 5" blade...but I don't do any fine carving. I really like a 7 inch blade and when combined with my machete and Saw I feel like I can take on any task the bush(My area).

08-19-2011, 02:48 PM
I used to ponder between 4" and 5" myself. I found 3" too small and 5" too long , so I started using 4 inchers a lot. Seems to be the perfect size for bush craft. Plus, most of the really good bushcraft knives out there are 4" or so must be sayin' something.

Still , if all I had was my Esee 3 I wouldn't be too worried. Just seem to have a preference for 3/16" thick , four inch flat grinds. The blade length being roughly the same as the handle length make for a good balanced combo. A 3" blade will usually always have more handle than blade. The proportions seem off for me.

08-19-2011, 03:15 PM
All depends on what your most likely to carry. 3 inch blades are considered to be the norm here in Norway for general duties. Many old timers in Scandinavian countries would consider that a knife big enough to be noticed on the belt is too big to be carried daily.

I edc a 3 inch blade and have never needed more. I think handle size / shape is just as important because if a knife has poor feel, regardless of the size of the blade you won't enjoy using it.


08-19-2011, 07:29 PM
I guess the difference is are they that different. O have a 3 inch puuko and it is 5/8 inch wide. The 4 inch one is the widest I have 1. 1/8. They are very different. I have a 5 and 6 inch ones that are 1 inch at there widest.

I use the three inch the most as I think I can edc it legally. But it is back up to one of the others

Hope that helps some:57: