Traditionally, hunting knives are meant for cutting. Most have a single sharp edge with either a curved or straight blade, but some knives have a blade with both. Hunting knives are designed to make tasks such as skinning and dressing an animal easy and precise enough to produce accurate cuts of meat for cooking. Specialized knives such as the “Guthook” are great if you’re a fisherman, but they are also useful for boning, skinning and slicing meat.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing the perfect hunting knife, and a lot of hunters use several different blades. Here’s some information to help you choose the best hunting knife for your needs.
- 1 Definition of the Modern Hunting Knife
- 2 The Various Uses of Hunting Knives
- 3 Types of Hunting Knives
- 4 Top Hunting Knife Brands Review
- 5 How to Choose the Right Hunting Knife
- 6 Keep it Sharp
Definition of the Modern Hunting Knife
Typically, people think that hunting knives are used for killing animals. This is not necessarily accurate as the majority of hunting knives come into play after the hunt. There are knives which are still used to kill, but these are usually daggers explicitly designed for wild boar hunting.
Today, different hunting knives are used for different tasks. Which doesn’t mean to say that there are not a lot of excellent multitasking knives out there. But because of the huge variety of knives available on the markets, choosing the best for you can be difficult, especially if you’re new to the hunt. So, let’s start with the basics; the clip point and drop point.
The Clip vs. Drop Point Knife
These are both great knives and are well worth your consideration. The drop point is slightly more popular and is probably better for carrying out a wider variety of hunting tasks. The blade and tip of the drop point are thicker, which adds to the quality of the edge, and if aesthetics is your thing, it looks better too.
Drop Point Knife
If you are looking for one blade that will take care of most of your hunting needs, then this is for you. The sharpened edge is thick and robust, and the blade is slightly curved on the unsharpened side for maximum control. With this blade, skinning or cutting meat is generally hassle-free.
The thick and firm curved tip stays sharp and gives you excellent control. The cutting edge has plenty of ‘belly’ making it ideal for cutting and slicing.
Compared to the clip point, the tip is not as sharp, so it’s not ideal for stabbing game.
Clip Point Knife
For anyone who prefers the more traditional hunting knife, the clip point is perfect. It can either be curved or straight allowing you to choose what suits your tasks best. The design is frequently used for fixed blades, Bowie and pocket knives.
Has an extremely sharp tip which is great for piercing. The large belly facilitates controlled cutting.
Narrow, weak point, with not as much control as a drop point.
If you’re buying a hunting knife for the very first time, it is probably better if you read this guide until the end. You can even go to a store, so you can hold it in your hand. Get the feel of it, the weight, and the balance. Never buy the first knife because you find it fancy. Try out several other similar makes and models, too. And remember, there’s no rule that says you can’t purchase more than one hunting knife.
The Various Uses of Hunting Knives
A good hunting knife should enable you to complete various tasks such as skinning, slicing, deboning and cutting. If you are looking for the perfect hunting knife, then check out this useful guide that will enable you to choose the best knife for the job.
Knives are rarely used for actually hunting, but there are some excellent ones on the market. They usually have sharp double-edged blades with a very sharp point to stab the animal. The handle needs to be very comfortable and non-slip to give you adequate control when hunting.
This is one of the most technical tasks after hunting, and that is why you need the best quality knife, so you can cut off the skin cleanly without damaging the flesh. The best skinning knife needs to be short, sharp and slightly curved. It should be perfectly sharpened and should remain so even after several uses. It is also essential that the handle should have a good grip and be non-slip to avoid any accidents.
This involves removing the internal organs from the animal to preserve the meat. It is one of the first things you must do when processing an animal since it is easier when the body is still warm. An excellent quality, sharp hunting knife is needed to cut the animal open.
This is the process of removing the meat from the bones using a hunting knife. The knife needs to have a slim blade and should be very flexible to debone effectively. This kind of blade is similar to a filleting one that is used for fish. Using a combination filleting and deboning knife is quite common.
Many people think of a hunting knife as the type of blade used when camping. Usually, a camping knife is a multi-purpose tool that also performs a lot of the functions in hunting. Hence, it is designed in a way that it can adequately fill in for a hunting knife. It is usually made using a drop point style that can take care of various camping tasks.
After deboning, you will have to butcher the meat to get all the different cuts that you want. For this, you will need a quality hunting knife to enable you to cut through the flesh easily for very clean cuts of meat.
This involves skinning the head of, for example a boar, bear or deer to use it as a trophy. It requires an excellent capping knife to cut away the skin and flesh. There are specialized knives used for this, but they can also be utilized for various other tasks as well.
This is often seen as a sideshow, but this art does have an essential place in the hunting scene. The art of throwing is necessary if you want to scare away an attacker or to hunt a small animal. There is a lot one can do having mastered this art. A well-balanced knife is essential for this form of sport.
Knowing all the different uses of a hunting knife should enable you to find the perfect blades for your hunting expeditions. Go for quality over quantity, and you will not be disappointed.
Types of Hunting Knives
A quality hunting knife forms a crucial part of your hunting gear, especially considering its multi-purpose nature. You can use it to kill an animal, skin it, butcher its meat and execute many other activities around the campsite. For centuries, hunting knives have served as vital tools for hunting and other outdoor activities.
Having been in existence for so long, it’s natural that many different styles and varieties of knife have evolved, depending on the particular function they serve. While it’s good to have variety, it can make it more difficult to know which one to choose. Here, we try to help you sort through the almost overwhelming number оf hunting knives so that you can come to a decision that you’ll be happy with.
Fixed Blade or Folding Blade?
The first thing you need to decide is whether you want a folding blade or a fixed blade. A fixed blade knife, as the name suggests, has a permanently fixed blade which is fully in the open position. This type of is knife is generally considered to be reliable and strong since it has no movable parts.
A disadvantage of these knives is that, owing to the openness, they have to be sheathed, making them bulkier and a little heavier.
Unlike the fixed blade knife, a folding blade knife exhibits a foldable blade, which can easily be folded back into the handle, making it easily portable. A locking feature ensures that the blade doesn’t close back when you’re using it, preventing accidents. Most folding knives are designed with more than one blade, so some people prefer them as they allow for a variety of blade options.
However, if you’ve made the right hunting knife choice, there should be no need for more than one.
Folding blade knives do have a few weak points. These are the hollow handle and the pivot point (which allows for the folding). This makes them weaker than a fixed blade knife of the same size.
These distinctive features should make it easy for you to settle on what knife best suits your hunting needs. Pursuing a dedicated hunting mission? Then a fixed blade design would be the best choice for you. If you hunt only occasionally, then the folding/flexible blade is all you need since you can even carry it around in your pocket.
Pocket Hunting Knives
These are foldable knives designed with a variety of blades which can also be easily folded into the handle to perfectly fit into your pocket. They can be used for various purposes including opening an envelope, slicing fruits, or for cutting twine. You can also use a pocket knife (jack-knife) as a self-defense weapon. The size of the blade is between five and fifteen centimeters (two to six inches).
Most of the light duty-pocket knives have slip joints – which implies that the blade doesn’t lock. When you open it, the flat bar tension (the leaf-type back spring) holds the blade in place thus making it foldable when some force is applied. It’s interesting that England produced the very first spring-back knives around 1660 but they weren’t widely available until the Industrial Revolution when machinery development enabled mass production to take place.
Most locking knives are designed with only one blade that folds back into the handle. It locks courtesy of a spring located along the blade’s back.
Top Hunting Knife Brands Review
Numerous knife manufacturers exist out there. Some claim to be all-purpose knife manufacturers while others market themselves as specialists when it comes to the manufacture of hunting knives.
Regardless of all the hype that comes with the various brands of hunting knives, it’s important to assess if the knife brand is going to suit your needs out in the field. This, of course, is easier said than done. Тhere is so much information available online that it becomes difficult to make the right choice and can even make the whole process overwhelming.
We’ve tried to make it easier for you by compiling a guide to the best brands of hunting knives, enabling you to make informed decisions. Before we dive into that though, here are five factors that will remind you of what to look for when shopping for a hunting knife:
- Are the blades made of durable materials capable of withstanding the wear and tear associated with hard use while hunting?
- Is the brand manufacturing blade shapes that are suitable for field-dressing game?
- Are the handles capable of maintaining their grip even after exposure to rain, viscera or blood at any temperature?
- Is it easy to maintain the knives after they’ve been used on the game?
- Are the knives affordable considering the features incorporated in them?
In line with the above five factors, the following brands perfectly fit the definition of excellence when it comes to the manufacture of hunting knives:
Elk Ridge Hunting Knife
Elk Ridge is an emerging brand representing excellent build quality and hence giving you good value for money. Most of their knives are comprised of 440 stainless steel and exhibit well thought out designs. If you’re looking for a working man’s tool at an affordable price or are just out for a good-looking knife, then one of these will be the right fit for you.
Buck Hunting Knife
If you prefer an established brand, this company has been in business for so long that the name Buck Knives now describes a very specific type of knife: a hunting knife with a wooden handle and a clip point blade. The company manufactures high-quality hunting knives which have been designed simply and which have few extra features.
They seldom utilize the latest technology, preferring to keep to what they know has worked in the past. In the same way that Swiss Army knives haven’t changed much over the years, so Buck hasn’t changed their tried and tested design very much over time.
Cutco Hunting Knife
These hunting knives are made in America, for American conditions. They are capable of withstanding anything that the great outdoors may throw at you. You can select from a range of hunting and outdoor knives in their super-sharp range. You’ll find one for any use from dressing and skinning your kill in the field to clearing a path or campsite.
Case Hunting Knife
As a trusted American manufacturer, Case has been manufacturing high-quality traditional knives since 1889. Case hunting knives are the real deal, because each knife has been designed with quality in mind and has been crafted expressly for hunting. You can trust Case for all your knife requirements ranging from collectibles to fixed blade knives and folders.
Gerber Hunting Knife
It’s undeniable that Gerber makes high-quality hunting knives as it invests much time and effort into their design. This guarantees that they are lots of fun and easy to work with when it comes to hunting. Gerber is involved in the design and manufacture of an array of fixed, assisted opening, folding, and automatic opening knives – which are, of course, meant for various different activities.
Kershaw Hunting Knife
Kershaw is one of the biggest names in the industry. They manufacture a wide variety of knife models – which are all perfectly crafted. Like other top-rated hunting knives, Kershaw hunting knives are made with the hunter’s needs in mind, particularly with regard to the blade. This makes them among the most innovative and popular in the industry. Carrying the legendary logo “shaving sharp,” Kershaw products command worldwide respect.
Benchmade Hunting Knife
Have you ever served in the military? If you have you must be familiar with this knife brand with its distinctive butterfly logo. It formed part of the target kit for all the Green Berets. Known for their hardness and durability, Benchmade knives formed a special part of the Special Forces operators’ gear. Under their use these knives took a beating yet still performed optimally. Benchmade’s simple formula is to manufacture their knives using high quality alloys for the blades. This means that you get an extremely durable, reliable and long-lasting knife.
Browning Hunting Knife
These are finely crafted knives and exhibit high standards when it comes to the design – a fact that can be easily confirmed by closely comparing any your previously owned knives with one of these. Browning knives’ precision “fit and finish” feature not only enhances their look but also enhances the overall performance. Browning knives are made with high-quality materials which include high grade, durable stainless steel, hence putting them a cut above the rest.
Spyderco Hunting Knife
These knives first became popular with kayakers and first responders such as emergency medical technicians who required knives that could be used to cut ropes and seat belts quickly and efficiently.
Among Spyderco’s most popular blades is the serrated blade type that has since become the preferred choice for those who’d like blades with few to no sharpening needs – which is often the case with a straight-edged blade. Spyderco has experimented with a variety of alloys and shapes. This has resulted in knives of exceptional sharpness and durability, making it an excellent brand for hunters.
Red Deer Hunting Knife
Red Deer has a collection of knives with a combination of wood handle knives, skinning knives, bone handle knives, and gut hook knives. The full-tang blades are razor sharp to the touch and are made of 440 stainless steel. The knives’ sheaths are manufactured from leather. They are highly attractive and durable.
Puma Hunting Knife
Although included as a bonus on my list, they are still worth the mention. Puma’s knives have been specifically designed and crafted with the hunter’s needs in mind. Puma offers the most German bladed knives on the market – with all their hunting knives featuring 1.4116 German Cutlery Steel (Rockwell tested at 55-57) – where each knife is subjected to a hardness test and marked with a proof mark.
The beautiful handles are varied, being made of genuine micarta, white bone, stag, jacaranda wood, brown jigged bone, and zebra wood. The company offers various combo sets comprising caping and skinning knives together.
How to Choose the Right Hunting Knife
A knife is a vital part of a hunter’s gear, especially when it comes to the clean breakdown of an animal. It’s therefore important to select the right knife. You’ll have to choose the blade design that best suits your needs. There are various styles – some having been designed for a specific purpose while others are more multi-purpose tools.
Some hunters prefer to use a single knife for everything while others prefer executing different tasks with separate blades. You also need to decide if you prefer a fixed blade or a folder. Overall, the most important thing is the quality of craftsmanship you invest in. Good quality blended with proper maintenance mean a strong, durable, and efficient hunting knife.
Most hunters prefer a four-inch blade for field knives since it’s difficult to be precise in tight spaces with longer blades. Tasks that involve long, deep cuts, crucial in the separation of the large muscle groups or quarters, mean that blades shorter than 4 inches may be less effective.
This blade design exhibits a slightly sloped curve which goes down to the point thus making perfect for field-related tasks like skinning, quartering, and gutting. The blade is long and strong enough for executing tasks like cutting off the tendons and separating heavy ball joints. This makes it one of the most commonly used hunting knife styles.
Are you a big game hunter? Then choosing a good drop point would be a wise decision if you want an all-purpose hunting knife.
This blade type is common among folding knives. A clip point blade exhibits a thinner point (as compared to the drop point), a noticeably angled drop, and a shallower blade radius similar to a skinning knife. These blades are ideal for hunting, camp chores, and fishing owing to their stout and responsive nature. Consider them for your everyday use.
Specialty blades are available in various designs depending on the intended task. For instance, some drop points exhibit a gut hook to prevent any punctures to the internal organs while you make abdominal incisions. Caping blades are short, shallow, and sharply pointed for skinning around the animal’s head, feet, and antlers.
If you prefer not to use these specific blade types and instead choose to utilize your all-purpose knife, make sure that you keep it sharp and pay special attention when carrying out the skinning and gutting procedure in the field. The right knife makes the entire field processing work easier and safer as opposed to using a dull blade or one that is the incorrect length. Cheap folding knives are prone to locking mechanism failure which can lead to injuries.
The use of drop points and skinners is common among experienced hunters who also prefer a folding clip point for their everyday use. They also come in handy for bird hunting activities as well as fishing trips.
Time to fill your freezer? Go for a good quality field knife that guarantees a quality end-product.
Keep it Sharp
Taking good care of your hunting knives, particularly the blades, by maintaining them regularly is the best way to ensure a smooth, safe field dressing and butchering process. It will also ensure that your knives last a good long time.
What exactly happens when your knife becomes dull? The thin, sharp edge of the blade gets folded during the cutting process. The continued use of the knife in the dull state will make it even more blunt and will wear the blade down because you’ll now begin to break away the rolled over steel bits from the blade’s edge.
Look out for the following signs to establish when your hunting blade begins to dull: when it no longer cuts quickly and cleanly through the hide and flesh; and when it requires more effort to cut. You can also test the blade’s sharpness on a piece of paper. When it’s sharp enough, it’ll slice the paper cleanly rather than tearing it. The best way of testing is to try using the blade to shave some of your arm hair. If it turns out to be ineffective then the blade is dull.