If you’ve ever gutted and dressed game in the field before, then you probably understand what a delicate and arduous process it can be. A slip-up would mean ruining the meat or the hide, wasting your tracking and hunting efforts. A mistake may even cause injuries to yourself. That’s why gutting knives are crucial in hunter’s arsenal.
Gutting is a crucial part of hunting. It’s a task that traditionally implies dying or living by the tool or “weapon” you’re using. Owning a quality gutting knife will make a huge difference, making the whole experience much quicker and easier.
The worst scenario while out in the field is where you constantly have to keep sharpening your blade. This makes the entire process longer and more drawn out than necessary. Another problem is if the grip on your knife slips all the time. This exposes you to danger and spoils your cuts’ integrity. Getting the best quality gutting knife you can afford will greatly enhance your experience and safety out there in the field.
- 1 Top 10 Gutting Knives Review
- 1.1 1. Elk Ridge Hunting Knives Set w/ Gutting Knife
- 1.2 2. Buck Gutting Knife #0691BKG
- 1.3 3. Cutco Gut Hook Hunting Knife
- 1.4 4. Case Mushroom Gut Hook Hunting Knife
- 1.5 5. Gerber Myth Hunting Kit w/ Gutting Knife
- 1.6 6. Kentucky Outfitter Gutting Knife
- 1.7 7. Browning Kodiak Knife #3220269
- 1.8 8. Wicked Stock Gut Hook Hunting Knife Z6A
- 1.9 9. Red Deer Big Game Field Dressing Kit w/ Gutting Knife
- 1.10 10. Benchmade Grizzly Creek Knife #15060-2
- 2 How to Choose the Best Gutting Knife
- 3 Gut Hook vs. Clip & Drop Point
- 4 Why Using a Gutting Knife?
- 5 Tips on Gutting Your Kill
Top 10 Gutting Knives Review
A quality gutting knife should become an integral part of your hunting identity as well add value to the experience of the general hunt. When you’re choosing a good quality game processing knife there are many options on the market.
Companies like Benchmade, Gerber, Buck, Spyderco, and a whole lot more all exhibit solid offerings and some even put together sets as well as entire kits which will cover all your needs with regard to gutting.
Guthook: 6.5 / 3.875 inches
Nylon dual sheath
Weight: 6.3 oz
Weight: 7.5 oz.
Thermoplastic elastomer handle
Weight: 4.8 oz.
Polished leather handle
Weight: 1.0 oz.
Guthook: 8.5 / 3.75 inches
Weight: 4.9 oz.
Thick leather sheath
Injection Molded handle
Weight: 14.2 oz
Skinning knife #1: 11 / 6 inches
Skinning knife #2: 10.5 / 5.25 inches
Skinning knife #3: 10 / 5 inches
Saw: 7 inch blade
Ergonomic rubber handle
8 Piece dressing kit
Pocket knife sharpener
Closed: 4.34 inches
Blade Length: 3.50 inches
Weight: 4.76 oz
Drop-Point / Gut hook
Here is my review of the top 10 gutting and field dressing knives on the market today:
1. Elk Ridge Hunting Knives Set w/ Gutting Knife
This great little set consists of two knives. One is a skinning knife, with a 7-inch long blade and the other is a gut-hook with a 6 ½-inch blade. Both blades are manufactured with 440 corrosion resistant steel, which holds an edge extremely well. They both have ABS handles in a camo color with comfortable grips. These compact knives come with a black nylon sheath for carrying them both safely and easily.
2. Buck Gutting Knife #0691BKG
The drop point gut hook blade on these brilliant knives is crafted with 420HC steel, giving excellent edge retention and durability. The blade is 4 1/8-inches long, and the gut hook works beautifully. The handle is textured rubber for a non-slip grip even when wet in the field. This knife weighs in at 6 1/3-ounces and comes with a strong polyester sheath. With a lifetime warranty, this knife is great value for money.
3. Cutco Gut Hook Hunting Knife
The gut hook on this knife’s blade does away with the need for a separate tool for gutting. The 4 3/8-inch blade, made with 440A stainless steel, comes in straight or Double-D® and is ideal for engraving on as a gift. The sure-grip handle eliminates nasty slips and comes in a choice of black or orange. A rugged leather sheath and lanyard sweeten the deal.
4. Case Mushroom Gut Hook Hunting Knife
Made with the ardent hunter in mind, this great-looking fixed blade knife has a concave ground 4-inch blade perfect for field dressing or skinning. The blade is manufactured from Case’s distinctive high carbon stainless steel, so it holds an edge exceptionally well. The polished leather handle is attractive and durable. Your new knife will come with a leather sheath. The knife weighs just 4.8 ounces.
5. Gerber Myth Hunting Kit w/ Gutting Knife
This handy little kit includes two steel-blade knives, giving you all you need when dressing your game in the field. They weigh just 5 ounces together and are small enough to clip onto your belt. The kit consists of the Myth Fixed Blade Pro and the Myth Compact Fixed Blade together in a sheath with a sharpener. Together in the sheath it all measures just 13 x 5 ½ x 2 ½ inches. Texturized rubber handles ensure a safe grip.
6. Kentucky Outfitter Gutting Knife
This attractive knife from Hunter is rugged but easily sharpened. The 440-carbon steel blade has a satin finish and features a drop point with a gut hook. The blade is just over 4 inches long, and the knife has an overall length of 8.7 inches. The tang runs the entire length of the contoured handle. The beautifully grained wooden handle features brass pins to hold the blade. The knife comes with a leather sheath.
7. Browning Kodiak Knife #3220269
Another folding knife, this one is unusual in that it comes with three stainless steel blades. One is a steel drop point, the second a gut hook and the third a bone saw. One is used while the other two fold down. The thick, molded handle has finger grooves and the knife comes with a belt sheath.
8. Wicked Stock Gut Hook Hunting Knife Z6A
You can’t go wrong with this well-made gutting knife. It has a blade that’s manufactured from Damascus steel which has been tempered and forged so it is incredibly hard. The blade is between 3 and 5mm thick. The handle is attractive, non-slip micarta with a length of 5 ½ inches. The knife weighs 14.3 ounces and comes with a real leather sheath.
9. Red Deer Big Game Field Dressing Kit w/ Gutting Knife
This great quality knife kit consists of three skinning knives (different sizes), one gutting knife (8 ½ inches), a small bone saw (3 ½ inch blade) and a gambrel. The orange rubber handles are non-slip. The kit comes in a case and would make a beautiful gift for that hunter in your life.
10. Benchmade Grizzly Creek Knife #15060-2
This superb quality, attractive knife has a CPM-S30V stainless drop-point blade which folds away into the handle. The blade holds its edge extremely well. The handle is tough dymondwood. There’s also a foldaway gut hook. The knife weighs just 2.9 ounces and is 7.8 inches long. Benchmade offers a lifetime sharpening and repair service to help your knife last a lifetime.
How to Choose the Best Gutting Knife
Before you can get around to preserving the meat of your kill you first have to complete the critical task of gutting. Also known as field-dressing, gutting means that you remove all the internal parts including the intestines, liver, kidneys, and heart, among others.
This job that needs to be done as soon as possible after killing the animal and before bacteria has a chance to multiply inside the meat. Fast and efficient gutting makes sure that the meat remains in good condition and also makes it easier to transport the animal as it will weigh a lot less once the internal organs have been removed.
There are five important things to bear in mind when choosing the best gutting knife for all types of hunt, namely:
- The shape of the gutting knife.
- How long the blade is?
- The material the knife is crafted from.
- What the handle is like?
- What price range the knife is in?
Shape of the Blade
The blade shape is vital when your job is to detach the hide from the meat of the animal. A lot of newbies think that a knife with a sharp point is the best, but this is not the case. A sharp-ended blade may puncture the hide, damaging it in the process. It’s better to use a blunt-ended knife or one with a rounded end, as this will mean you can gut the animal without ruining the leather or the meat.
Gutting Knife Length
Most gutting knives are fairly short, as longer knives are awkward to maneuver and may well spoil the job. Of course, a longer blade is best for filleting the meat, but not for gutting. A shorter blade provides more control and lessens the risk of slips and accidents. When you’re cutting the lower body section and removing the intestines, a short knife is less likely to damage the organs. You’ll be able to finish the job confidently and with control, which will result in you getting some great cuts of meat.
The Blade Materials
The quality of the blade material will determine how long it can hold an edge for, and therefore how often you have to sharpen it. A cheaper blade that gets blunt quickly will cost you in the long run because it will spoil the way you gut. It could even damage the hide and meat, too. Blades made from lesser materials can also be dangerous and lead to accidents. As any experienced hunter will know, it’s vital to have a well-sharpened blade that keeps its edge even after being used a few times.
Characteristics and Comfort
If you’re new to the gutting process, the task will probably take you a little longer. This means that you will need a knife with a comfortable handle and a good grip. It must be the correct size for your hands and must never slip, even when wet. Picking a handle that gives you perfect control is a matter of comfort and safety.
Knife Price Range
A serious hunter will always buy the best tools they can afford, and gutting knives are no exception. Nevertheless, whichever model you choose has to fit into your budget. And spending heaps of cash on a knife doesn’t always guarantee you’re getting the best quality, anyways.
Choose your knife carefully, weighing up all the pros and cons. The most expensive knife out there may look pretty but might not be the one you really need to do the hunting tasks you have planned. Plus, you could also use an axe to do some of the work, but be aware that it will not be as precise or as safe.
Gut Hook vs. Clip & Drop Point
When choosing a hunting knife, the blade point is considered a vital part, especially when it comes to field dressing. This applies to gutting knife as well. Which one you choose depends on the type of animal you’ll be hunting and the job you’re going to be doing with it. For gutting, you can choose from three types of points, namely: drop point, clip point or knives with gut hooks.
A knife that exhibits a clip point is usually very sharp and so is good for slicing and piercing. However, because the tip is so narrow, it is a weak point on the knife.
A drop pointed blade is widely recommended for deer hunters since the point enables easy skin piercing—which usually has to be in a pinpoint location. This helps to reduce mistakes leading to meat destruction while gutting or skinning.
For gutting, it is recommended to use a knife with a gut-hook, especially for cleaning deer. Although many experienced hunters never used a knife with a gut-hook, I will give them a go!
Why Using a Gutting Knife?
Having a gutting knife is important for every professional hunter, to ensure that he will not pierce internal organs that would later ruin the meat. It helps the hunter to cleanly skin the kill without incidental and unwanted penetrations.
These are the key factors why you should use a gutting knife, too:
For Speed of Use
A lightweight knife will be more comfortable to hold and will allow you to cut through the animal’s skin with ease to give you fast access to the organs. A good knife will let you do the task more precisely than if you used an ax or a machete while allowing you to maintain the meat quality.
For Your Convenience
The best gutting & hunting knives are comfortable to carry and more accessible than any other tool you’ll ever need. They can fit into your pocket or kept in a sheath on your belt so you can begin your field dressing tasks straight away and without any fuss or bother.
For Reasons of Sanitation
Keeping a specific knife exclusively for gutting helps maintain hygiene levels by keeping bacteria away from the carcass. You should keep your gutting knife as clean as possible and always try to use gloves during the process to avoid infecting the meat as much as possible. It is also vital to keep the knife very sharp so that you can finish the job quickly and safely.
For Safety That Lasts Longer
A good quality gutting knife is safer to use, protecting both you, the meat, and the hide. A lock-back knife is probably the most reliable option because the blade locks securely in place and won’t snap back and injure your fingers while in use. Remember, a gutting knife should be durable and made from top quality materials. A great gutting knife will last for many years before needing to be replaced.
Field Dressing a Deer Using a Gutting Knife
A good hunter knows how vital it is to dress the deer as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s not the most pleasant process, but it needs to be done or else the meat will spoil and consequently wasted. A good quality, reliable gutting knife will help you get the job done fast and avoid the risk of bacteria building up inside the cadaver.
To sum up – to complete the crucial task of gutting safely and correctly, you need an excellent quality knife that stays sharp and is easy to carry. Look for a fixed or folding blade, or a gut hook, and make sure it has a durable and comfortable handle. Remember, a great knife is an investment that as a serious hunter you won’t ever regret.
Tips on Gutting Your Kill
Proper field dressing of your game helps prevent bacterial contamination, so is an effective way of preserving the meat for as long as possible. Remember, your chosen method of doing this largely depends on the size of your kill. For instance, a deer can be kept whole but elk or moose may require halving or quartering to aid with quicker cooling. It also makes transportation easier.
So, what else should you carry along with you other than your field dressing knife?
- Additional Equipment for Field Dressing: To ensure a proper field dressing process, always carry a small hatched, sharp knife, a whetstone or steel for sharpening, rope or nylon cord, rubber bands, cloths or paper towels, a cheesecloth, large zip lock bags, black pepper, clean drinking water, a big cooler (snow or ice-filled), and disposable plastic gloves.
- Field Dressing Quickly: There are several different methods for field dressing your kill. Most differ on the incision size for intestine removal. However, the immediate gutting of your kill after shooting remains mandatory regardless of which method you choose. Immediate dressing helps prevent the growth of bacteria, aids rapid body heat loss, and enhances the meat’s quality.
- Bleeding Guidelines: Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t mandatory to always bleed your kill. Normally, a bullet wound to the heart, lungs, or liver is enough to wrap up this step. However, use your own judgment as some instances may require that bleeding is done.
It’s always a good idea to wear disposable plastic gloves while carrying out the field dressing process as this prevents exposure to potentially harmful diseases. It’s also good practice to wash your hands and arms with water and soap before and after dressing the animal, especially if you do not have gloves.