Every hunter knows that a good hunting knife can be his best friend in the wild. Not only do you need a knife fit for field dressing your game, you also need to be prepared for a variety of other situations, including cutting tree limbs, making emergency gear repairs, as well as getting chores done around the campsite.
While you may think you need a variety of different tools to perform all these different functions, the reality is that there are quite a few knives and tools out there that are fantastic multitaskers so you can avoid packing up your entire toolbox.
Here is an overview of what to consider when buying your next hunting knife, as well as available features that may make roughing it a little easier.
Types & Styles of Knives Available
First designed by James Bowie in 1830, the Bowie knife is characterized by a single fixed blade that is six to 15 inches in length with a bone handle. The curved end of this knife is ideal for skinning game, while the flat, straight portion is well-suited for cutting meat.
Drop Point Knife
Another fixed blade knife very popular with hunters is the drop point blade, which features a downward sloping unsharpened edge that runs straight from the handle to the point, and the point is very strong and easy to control. This is a great all purpose knife suited to tasks that require a strong blade but allow you to avoid piercing internal organs.
A boning knife is relatively specialized tool with a short, thin blade ideal for separating bones from flesh for boneless cuts of meat.
A gutting or gut hook knife is essential for field dressing, and it features a fixed blade with a curved, sharp extension on top. This type of knife is used to puncture and slit the skin of an animal over the intestines without puncturing the gut. It is also well-suited to cleaning fish.
This type of knife is ready for anything and usually comes in the form of a folding knife with multiple blades. Multipurpose knives feature items such as screwdrivers, saws, knife blades, scissors, and even forks and spoons in their repertoire, making them fantastic tools for camping.
When choosing a hunting knife, bigger is not always better. In fact, the best hunting numbers are between two and four inches. Why? Because smaller knives allow for greater precision, making it less likely that you will cut something that you don’t want to cut.
Additionally, shorter knives are easier to carry and transport, making them better suited for life on the trail. While big knives may be useful in certain situations, a small, high quality knife with a high quality blade and sturdy handle should be the weapon of choice in most hunting situations, even when it’s big game you’re after.
Generally, you have two choices when it comes to a blade – fixed or folding. There are distinct advantages to both types, and you may want to have one of each with you. Fixed blades are what most people think of when picturing a typical hunting knife. Permanently extended, these blades are generally much stronger than their folding counterparts, and they are also available in much longer lengths.
If you are a dedicated hunter, a good fixed blade is a must, because it makes skinning and field dressing easier and safer. It can also be used as a good survival tool in a pinch.
Contrarily, the folding knife is much easier and safer to transport, because the blade is easily tucked into the handle, preventing unnecessary knicks and injuries.
The folding knife, or pocketknife as it is also known, can be carried in a pocket, purse, or backpack with ease. Another advantage to a folding knife is its propensity for multiple tools, making it a great item for camping and other casual outdoor activities.
If you are using a folding knife to dress game, however, you must make sure that you have a high quality tool with a very strong pivot point, lessening your risk of breakage or potential injury. A disadvantage to this type of knife is the fact that it is very difficult to clean due to the pivot point housed inside the handle.
When choosing your ideal hunting knife or knives, you must carefully consider that materials used in its construction. A strong tool can mean the difference between life in death in certain circumstances, so it is essential to purchase a well-made knife. Essentially every knife blade is going to be composed primarily of steel, although it may be a steel alloy due to certain properties associated with various alloys that improve performance. Here is a list of the common blade materials and the advantages of each:
A popular material for pocketknives and kitchen utensils, stainless steel is known for its resistance to rust, although it is often not as sharp as other blades.
Carbon steel is known for its sharpness and ease of sharpening, making it a perfect material for hunting blades. Due to its tendency to rust, carbon steel blades must be carefully cleaned after use.
Titanium is another blade construction option, but it is a softer material than steel and may be coated in other materials to aid in keeping a sharp blade. It is popular for pocketknife blades.
Though less common than the other materials, ceramic blades are occasionally used in pocketknives. Known for their hard, sharp blades which will not ever rust, these blades are also vulnerable to cracking when dropped.
There are a lot of potential materials used in knife handles, as well, with benefits and drawbacks to each. This list will give you an idea of what to look for.
Crafted from the inner surface of a mollusk shell, abalone is an attractive albeit somewhat fragile material for some pocketknife handles.
Lightweight and durable, aluminum is a well-known and often used handle material for all types of knives.
Bone is a common choice for pocketknife handles. It is hard, easy to clean, durable, and can be dyed to achieve various colorations.
While pricey, carbon fiber is both strong and lightweight.
This is a durable fiberglass laminate material known for being durable and lightweight.
This natural deer antler material is attractive and unique.
Good quality wood handles are durable, easy to maintain, and perfectly suited to heavy duty knives.
Choosing the right hunting knife is a matter of what your needs are and personal preferences. Take into consideration the guide above and find one that best meet your needs.
Check Our Top 6 Hunting Knife Reviews
Most of the Hunting Knives included in the comparison chart are great options; however, there are six of them that we would like to point out as our favorites. Below you will find our top picks for fixed-blade and folding knives as well as a detailed review of each one of them. We hope you enjoy our selection!
1 – Kershaw Ken Onion Blur Folding Knife with Speed Safe
The Kershaw Ken Onion Blur is a folding knife that has a 3-3/8 inch stainless steel blade. Buyers have the option of a smooth blade or a serrated blade. The lightweight handle is made of anodized aluminum and has a non-slip grip thanks to Trac-Tec inserts. These grips allow the knife to be wielded even when wet.
This folding blade features Kershaw’s SpeedSafe assisted opening system that allows users to open the knife manually by pushing on either the thumb stud or Index-Open system of the blade. The SpeedSafe torsion bar prevents the folding knife from opening accidentally. The knife measures in at 5×2.2×1 inches and has a shipping weight of 4.8 ounces. Color options include a standard black or black with dark gray, red, or tan accents.
By applying manual pressure to the thumb stud or Index-Open system, the blade will get past the resistance of the torsion bar. Once the blade has been released from the handle, the torsion bar moves along a track and moves smoothly until the blade locks in place.
Kershaw describes the knife as ideal for different situations including every day usage and extreme situations. Always consider safety when handling any knife. The Kershaw Ken Onion Blur is reported to have a very sharp blade that keeps its edge even when used, so be especially careful when the blade is in use.
As an American product made in Tualatin, Oregon, many buyers have been satisfied with this knife. Hundreds of online reviews boast about how well the blade holds its sharpness, the light weight, and overall ease of use.
Thanks to the quality of the Kershaw Knife company name as well as the easy operation and safety features, the Kershaw Ken Onion Blur Folding Knife has been lauded with high ratings online. At a very attractive price, this Kershaw product holds its own in the tactical folding knife market.
2 - Buck Knives 110-9210 Folding Hunter Lock-Back Knife
The 110-9210 Folding Hunter Lock-Back Knife by Buck Knives is a high quality knife for a reasonable price that has hundreds of three to five star reviews online and lacks low ratings.
The Buck Knives 110-9210 Folding Hunter Lock-Back Knife features a 3-3/4 inch stainless steel clip blade that allows for detail work while using the blade. The handle is made of natural wood-grain and features brass bolster accents. This folding hunter knife opens and closes with ease. The 110-9210 knife features a nail-notch lock-back design for ease of use.
The Buck Knives 110-9210 Folding Hunter Lock-Back Knife is measured at 10×2.8×1.8 inches and weighs in at 11.2 ounces. The knife also comes with its own black leather sheath and the option of a lifetime warranty.
The blade shape featured on the Buck Knives 110-9210 is called a clip. Clip refers to the area and length of the curve of the portion of the tip of the blade that does not cut. While the point of clip blades are effective for detail work, please note that the point does not hold the same strength as the thicker part of the knife’s blade. As a lock-back knife, the 110-9210 works similarly to a fixed-blade knife with the added benefit of being able to fold the blade into the handle.
When opened, the blade will be locked into place. To release the locking mechanism, push down on the rocker at the back of the handle. Closing these knives require the use of two hands.
The 110-9210 Folding Hunter Lock-Back Knife by Buck Knives is a proud product of the United States that is lauded for being sharp and effective for tasks like skinning and even shaving. Many owners have grown up with 110 model Buck Knives, making the 110-9210 a trusted, nostalgic option. Potential owners can be encouraged by the high quality at a reasonable price that will not break the bank.
3 - KA-BAR Fixed Blade Utility Knife
The KA-BAR Fixed Blade Utility Knife is a fighting blade that comes with a partially serrated edge. This reasonably priced knife has received very high ratings and reviews online. Lets check it out!
The KA-BAR Fixed Blade is a black utility knife with a partially serrated edge. The KA-BAR Fixed Blade is also referred to as a fighting knife. The American production company, KA-BAR, holds over a century of experience in knife making, and is known for its military heritage. KA-BAR knives are prided on their strenght and resistance to corrosion, and their ability to hold an edge.
Each KA-BAR knife comes with a sharpened blade straight out of the box. KA-BAR generally focuses on an audience ranging from people on a casual outdoors trip to experienced hunters. To do so , the company offers a variety of utility knives that can handle a range of duties large and small.
The KA-BAR Fixed Blade Utility Knife measures at 11-3/4 inches and weighs only 0.65 pounds. Included with the knife is a hard sheath that is very secure. The seven inch blade has a 20 degree edge angle. The blade is made of 1095 Cro-Van steel, making it easy to sharpen while maintaining an edge. This plain carbon steel is used in knife making and has proven to be a very popular choice in materials for KA-BAR knives.
The handle is made of Kraton G, a man-made material that rests comfortably in the user’s hand. The KA-BAR Fixed Blade Utility Knife features a clip point and a flat grind. The knife also features a piece that allows the knife to be strapped to bags.
The fact that the KA-BAR Fixed Blade Utility Knife is produced in the United States and has such great quality for a low cost speaks levels for some buyers. The KA-BAR Fixed Blade Utility Knife is primarily intended for self defense. The knife could be used as a camping knife, but other designs would work better at nearly the same cost. Keep this in mind while shopping around the marketplace. If the purpose suits your needs, the KA-BAR Fixed Blade Utility Knife may just be the product for you.
4 - Kershaw S30V Blur Knife with Steel Blade with SpeedSafe
By focusing on the product’s details in this review, we hope to provide you information that will determine if this product is right for you.
The Kershaw S30V Blur Knife is equipped with a S30V Steel Blade with a stone-washed finish. The handle is made of 6061-T6 anodized aluminum. Slippery conditions are no match for the Easy-grip Trac-Tec handle inserts, which allow users to keep hold of the handle when slick. When fully opened, the Kershaw S30V Blur Knife measures at 7-7/8 inches. The unit weighs in at 4 ounces.
The locking liner keeps the blade still. The Kershaw Blur also comes with a Kershaw pocket clip for a safe way to carry the knife. The featured SpeedSafe opening system allows for ambidextrous use and easy, single handed opening. Buyers have the choice of smooth or partially serrated blades.
The Kershaw Blur Knife aims to solve the problem of grip-related knife injuries. The handle, which uses specific materials and features to improve grip plays a major part in solving this issue. The SpeedSafe opening system also helps in this front.
The SpeedSafe system was created by Ken Onion, a celebrated knife craftsman who is involved in the design and manufacturing process to make sure the products match his high standards for quality assurance. The 30SV steel blade is used for these knives in favor of the material’s strength, resistance to corrosion, and sharpening ease. The blade comes sharpened, so use care when handling the knife out of packaging.
With high quality assurance standards, the Kershaw Ken Onion Blur series outshines much of its competition. Online reviews praise the Kershaw S30V Blur Knife as a solid choice for an American made knife. When considering the quality for the price as well as Kershaw’s renowned customer care and limited lifetime warranty, the Kershaw S30V Blur Knife presents itself as a fine choice for various situations through day to day life.
5 - Gerber 22-01874 Mark II Knife Review
The 22-01874 Mark II is a fixed blade hunting knife produced by Gerber. Today we will be reviewing the knife’s features and specifications in an effort to help you decide if this knife is right for you.
The Gerber 22-01874 Mark II is a 420 HC steel fixed blade knife with black oxide coating. Both sides of the blade edge are serrated in one section and plain in the other. The handle is made of die cast aluminum. The knife comes with a ballistic nylon sheath. The long, thin knife is 11.6 inches, with the blade making up 6.6 inches of that length. The Gerber 22-018974 Mark II weighs in at 12.5 ounces. The knife comes with a limited lifetime warranty. The Gerber Mark II tactical knife was first introduced in 1966. It has since become a serialized collector’s item and one of the best selling knives of all time.
Knife in Review
The Gerber 22-01874 Mark II cutting knife is a decent beginner’s blade, though some other hunting blades that are better quality can be found for a better price. The knife is not full tang, and is dull upon package opening. It can sharpen very well but loses its edge quickly. It is produced in the United States, specifically in Portland, Oregon. Reviews recommend the knife for its intended purpose: self protection. If consumers are looking for a camping knife, this is not it. The knife exists for the reason of survival through combat, and is not to be used as a field knife.
If you are hunting, the Gerber 22-01874 is a great device for dispatching prey. The knife can be used to adequately fend off attacks in cases of self defense by fencing with the blade and is capable of making skull indentations with the pommel. The blade dulls after approximately one thorough use. The high price for its single use functionality and design is probably not a good choice for buyers hoping to purchase a knife for a camping trip. Hunters and members of the armed forces are better suited to this product, as it is more a weapon than it is a tool.
6 - Kershaw 1780CB Cutting Knife
The Kershaw 1780CB Cutting knife, known also as the Kershaw Rake, is a composite folding knife that features wear-resistant D2 steel on its cutting edge and Sandvik 14C28N steel on the spine. This fairly priced knife has high reviews and ratings online.
The Kershaw 1780CB Cutting Knife measures in at 4-5/8 inches when closed and weighs 4.8 ounces. The blade length is 3-1/2 inches. When the knife is open, it measures at 8-1/8 inches. Kershaw’s unique SpeedSafe opening system allows for the knife to be opened with either hand. The Rake features a built in switch that allows quick and easy access to the blade. This wide blade has a curved belly designed to provide an impressive slashing capability. The textured, black G-10 handle has no special features but holds its own in the marketplace.
Knife in Review
The Kershaw 1780CB Rake is thin enough to rest easily inside of people’s pockets while sitting. Owners have high praises for the handle, which has a thumb rest and finger recess that provide wonderful control. Online reviews have high approval for the ergonomic shape of the knife. The Kershaw 1780CB Rake is lauded for its solid build that is not at all too heavy. The blade deployment is very smooth, most reviews agree.
The sharpness is of high quality according to all reviews. The Kershaw 1780CB Rake’s pocket clip is fairly balanced according to some reviews. Some users are displeased that the blade is not longer, but agree that it is long enough to complete most tasks.
Overall, the Kershaw 1780CB Rake is meant to resist wear while providing quality slicing performance, which the knife delivers. The blade is a bit large for an every day carry knife, but the control that the handle gives makes up for this fact. As a product made in the United States, the quality stands testament to many consumer’s preferences. If the knife suits your needs, you may find that the Kershaw 1780CB Rake Cutting Knife is the product for you.
When choosing your hunting knife, you should think about any other features you may need, such as specialized blades, sheath designs, and what will be required to maintain your knife and keep it sharp. All knives require a certain degree of dedication to keep them in top shape, so be sure you know what is involved before making your purchase.
Buying a hunting knife does not have to be a complicated process, as long as you know what to look for. Consider your knife’s features and quality of construction carefully before making your purchase. A good knife will make for a much better hunting experience overall, and a good investment is money well spent.