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Discover the various Types of Hunting Knives. Our comprehensive guide helps you choose the right knife for your next hunting adventure. Learn more now!
You’re a passionate hunter who wants to improve. A good knife is one of the most essential items in any hunter’s toolbox. But how can you decide when there are so many possibilities available? The list is endless and includes capers, skinners, Buck knives, and Bowie knives. We’ve got you covered, so don’t worry. We’ll go through the most popular varieties of hunting knives in this guide and assist you in selecting the ideal blade for your requirements. We’ll go over the benefits and drawbacks of each knife so you can choose wisely, whether you’re hunting deer, ducks, or trout. You’ll be adept with hunting knives and prepared to face the big outdoors by the end. Now let’s get going!
An Introduction to Hunting Knives
When choosing a hunting knife, there are a few basics to consider. The type of knife, blade design, and additional features will depend on what kind of game you typically hunt. Let’s explore some of the most common options so you can find a knife well-suited to your needs.
Fixed-blade knives have a blade that doesn’t fold or retract. They’re typically stronger and easier to clean than folding pocket knives. Popular for big game, a fixed-blade knife is a sturdy, reliable choice. Look for a full tang blade, meaning the metal blade extends into the handle for durability.
Folding pocket knives, or folding hunters, have a blade that folds into the handle. More compact but still useful, a pocket knife is good for small games or as a backup. Look for a locking blade, like a liner lock or lockback, so it doesn’t fold on your fingers during use.
- A drop point blade has a curved edge and a “dropped” point, meaning the spine slopes from the handle to the tip. It’s a versatile, all-purpose design ideal for slicing and piercing. The lowered point prevents accidental punctures while skinning.
- A clip-point blade has a clipped or concave edge and a pointed tip. It’s a good multi-use design but the sharp point can puncture internal organs if you’re not careful. Often found on Bowie knives.
- A gut hook, or “knife claw,” is a hooked blade used for field dressing games. It opens the abdomen without slicing into internal organs. Many hunters find a gut hook indispensable.
Additional features like a finger guard, lanyard hole, or textured non-slip handle can improve safety, control, and convenience. Choose a high-carbon stainless steel for hardness, sharpness, and corrosion resistance. With the right knife selected, you’ll be well on your way to a successful hunt.
Types of Fixed Blade Hunting Knives
Fixed-blade hunting knives come in a variety of shapes and sizes for different purposes. The three most common types are:
Bowie knives have a long blade, usually over 6 inches, with a clipped point. They’re designed for chopping and slicing. The classic American bowie knife has a crossguard and usually a full tang. They’re great all-purpose hunting knives for cutting through brush or skinning and butchering large game.
Drop Point Knives
Drop-point knives have a spine that curves slightly downward to the point. This shape makes them good for slicing and piercing. The slight curve on the spine prevents the point from stabbing or tearing as easily. Drop points typically have a sturdy blade 3 to 5 inches long, so they work well as an all-purpose field knife for hunters. Popular for cutting, slicing, and skinning game.
Trailing Point Knives
Trailing point knives have an upwardly curved spine leading to the point. They excel at slicing and slashing. The curve in the spine causes the point to trail higher than the handle for enhanced control and precision cutting. Trailing point blades are often quite long, from 4 to 8 inches, making them good for skinning and slicing meat. The curved point also prevents accidental puncture of the hide.
Other styles of fixed-blade hunting knives include clip point, spear point, and tanto point. The specific design you choose depends on how you primarily intend to use the knife. A sturdy, well-made hunting knife can last a lifetime and become an indispensable tool for any hunter. When selecting a fixed-blade knife, consider the type of game you hunt, blade length, and overall build quality. A reliable, versatile hunting knife is worth the investment.
Folding Hunting Knives – Pros and Cons
Folding hunting knives offer a mix of pros and cons compared to fixed-blade knives. They’re more compact and easier to carry but may be less durable. Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages so you can decide if a folding knife is right for your needs.
Folding knives are highly portable since the blade folds into the handle. They conveniently fit in your pocket or pack without taking up much space. If you’re hiking long distances or packing light, a folding knife is ideal.
The folding design also provides some safety benefits. With the blade folded, the cutting edge is covered, reducing the chance of injuries from an exposed blade. The lock mechanism also helps prevent the blade from accidentally closing on your hand during use.
However, folding knives typically aren’t as robust as fixed-blade knives. The folding mechanism introduces potential weak points and the blade may be more prone to breaking under heavy use. For demanding cutting tasks like chopping wood, a fixed-blade knife is a better choice.
Folding knives also usually require more maintenance to prevent rust and keep the pivot mechanism in working order. You’ll need to regularly clean and lubricate the knife to prevent rust and keep all moving parts sliding smoothly.
You can find high-quality folding hunting knives at a range of price points. In general, folding knives do tend to cost slightly more than fixed-blade knives of a similar size and quality due to their more complex design.
In the end, you need to weigh the pros and cons based on how you intend to use the knife. For light to moderate use where portability and safety matter most, a folding knife can work great. But for heavy-duty use in demanding conditions, a fixed-blade knife is probably your best bet. The choice is yours!
Choosing the Right Size Hunting Knife
Choosing the right size hunting knife is important for your needs and comfort. Think about how you’ll use your knife the most. A smaller blade around 3 to 4 inches is good for detail work like cleaning small game or filleting fish. A medium 5 to 7-inch blade can handle most hunting tasks like field dressing, skinning, and boning. For heavier chopping or survival needs, consider a larger 8-inch or longer blade.
- Blade length: Consider if you’ll be hunting a large or small game. A longer, wider blade (5 to 8 inches) is good for big game like deer, while a shorter blade (3 to 4 inches) suits small game.
- Fixed vs folding blade: A fixed-blade knife is stronger, but a folding blade is more compact. Fixed blades are better for rugged field dressing while folding blades are good for general use.
- Blade type: A drop point or clip point blade is versatile for most hunting. A gut hook or caping blade makes field dressing easier. A serrated edge cuts through tough materials.
- Handle: A comfortable, slip-resistant handle gives you control. Natural materials like wood or bone feel classic. Synthetic handles made of rubber, nylon, or micarta are durable. Finger grooves or a guard provide a safe grip.
Think about how and where you’ll carry your knife. A fixed-blade knife in a sheath on your belt is easy to access. A folding knife can go in your pocket. Consider a knife with a lanyard hole so you can wear it around your neck.
Your hunting knife is a vital tool, so choose a high-quality knife that suits your needs. A well-made knife from a reputable brand will last for years and serve you well on many adventures. With the right size and features, you’ll have a trusty companion for any hunting task.
Hunting Knife Blade Shapes and Uses
The type of blade on your hunting knife is one of the most important factors to consider based on how you intend to use it. The blade shape determines how well the knife can perform certain tasks.
A clip-point blade has a concave cutout at the tip of the blade. This creates a sharp point that’s ideal for piercing and cutting in tight spaces. The clip-point blade is a popular choice for hunters. It works well for skinning games, cutting hide, and slicing meat.
The drop point blade has a convex curve to the tip of the blade. It has a very strong point and works well for slicing and cutting. The drop point is an excellent all-purpose blade for most hunting tasks like field dressing game or cutting rope.
As the name suggests, the spear point blade has a symmetrical pointed tip and straight cutting edges. It’s a versatile blade useful for thrusting and piercing. The spear point works for puncturing and slicing, but may not be ideal for skinning as the tip can accidentally puncture the hide.
A gut hook blade has a sharpened hook at the tip used specifically for opening the abdomen and eviscerating the game. The gut hook makes it easy to open the chest and abdominal cavities without puncturing internal organs. It’s a specialized blade mainly used when field dressing large games.
The trailing point blade has a back edge that curves upward to a point. It provides a larger slicing area and a pointed tip for cutting in confined spaces. The trailing point works well for skinning, slicing meat, and cutting hide. However, the tip is slightly weaker so piercing may be more difficult.
The blade shape you choose depends on how you primarily use your hunting knife. Evaluate the different options to find a versatile blade for your needs, or you may want a combination of blades for different tasks. The right hunting knife will make your time in the field dressing and processing your game much more efficient.
Must-Have Features in a Good Hunting Knife
A good hunting knife is one of the most important tools for any hunter. When choosing a hunting knife, there are a few must-have features to consider:
The blade steel determines how well the knife holds an edge. For hunting, look for high-carbon stainless steel like AUS-8 or 440C. These provide a good balance of hardness, durability, and rust resistance. Avoid lower quality steels which require frequent sharpening.
The blade design impacts how versatile and effective the knife will be for various hunting tasks. A drop point blade with a convex curve is a great all-purpose design. It’s strong, provides a large cutting area, and is suitable for piercing and slicing. A clip-point blade has a straighter spine and clipped tip, ideal for detail work. A gut hook blade features a sharpened hook for a field dressing game. Consider what types of hunting and tasks you need the knife for.
The handle material affects grip, comfort, and durability. Popular options for hunting knives include:
- Rubber: Provides excellent grip even when wet, but less durable.
- Wood: Attractive, lightweight but requires more maintenance.
- Synthetic: Tough, weather-resistant, and low maintenance. Options like Micarta, Zytel, and G10 provide a good grip.
- Leather: Comfortable and traditional but less weather-resistant.
- A full tang extends the length of the handle, providing more strength and balance.
- A finger guard protects your fingers from slipping onto the blade.
- A lanyard hole allows you to attach the knife to your wrist or gear.
- A sturdy sheath protects the blade when not in use and allows for safe carrying.
Choosing a hunting knife with these key features will ensure you have a safe, effective, and long-lasting tool for your adventures in the field. Take the time to consider how you’ll use the knife and choose a design suited to your needs. With the right knife by your side, you’ll be well-equipped for a successful hunt.
Top Hunting Knife Brands on the Market
When buying a hunting knife, the brand is an important consideration. Some of the top hunting knife brands are:
Buck Knives is an American knife company that has been making quality knives since 1902. They are known for producing knives that hold an edge well and are built to last. Some of their popular hunting knives include the Buck 119 Special, a classic clip-point blade, and the Buck Omni Hunter, which comes in a variety of blade styles.
Gerber is another trusted American brand that makes a variety of tools, including high-quality hunting knives. They are known for innovative designs and value. Their hunting knife options include the StrongArm, LMF II Infantry, and Prodigy Survival knives. These are all full-tang knives suited for heavy-duty use.
Ka-Bar is famous for the USMC Fighting Knife, but they make high-quality hunting knives as well. Their Becker BK2 Companion is a popular, lightweight option for hunters. It has a drop point blade and comes in at under $50. The Ka-Bar USMC Fighting Knife is also suited for hunting and survival needs with its 1095 Cro-Van steel blade.
Benchmade is a premium knife brand that produces some of the best hunting knives on the market. Their hunting knives feature high-quality blade steel and excellent craftsmanship. Options like the Griptilian, Crooked River, and Hidden Canyon Hunter are amazing knives but do come at a higher price point, often $100-$300 or more.
Spyderco is another reputable brand that makes a variety of high-performance hunting knives. They are known for their unique blade shapes and designs. Popular hunting knife models include the Spyderco Tenacious, Endura 4, and Sage 5. Spyderco knives provide excellent quality and cutting ability for the price.
When choosing a hunting knife, consider your needs and budget to determine which brand and models will serve you best. With a variety of great options on the market, you’re sure to find a knife you’ll enjoy for years to come.
Maintaining and Caring for Your Hunting Knife
Maintaining your hunting knife properly will keep it in prime working condition for years to come. With regular care and sharpening, a high-quality hunting knife can last a lifetime.
After each use, wipe down the blade and handle to remove any dirt or debris. For stuck-on residue, use a solvent like isopropyl alcohol. Be sure to dry all parts to prevent rusting. For folding knives, pay extra attention to cleaning the joint mechanism. Built-up gunk can prevent the blade from opening and closing properly.
A dull knife is a dangerous knife. Sharpen your hunting knife regularly using a whetstone or electric sharpener. Hold the knife at a 15-20 degree angle and slide the blade along the stone using even pressure. Alternate sides until you feel a slightly sharp edge. For beginners, a sharpening guide can help you maintain the proper angle. Test the edge with your thumbnail—it should catch slightly.
Store your hunting knife in a dry area away from extreme heat or cold. A knife rack, sheath or storage box will keep the blade covered and secured. For folding knives, keep the blade lubricated and the locking mechanism engaged to prevent dulling. Apply a thin coat of oil to the blade and joints every few months.
Beyond cleaning, sharpening, and storing, take these extra steps to keep your hunting knife in working order:
- Inspect the knife for any cracks, chips, or damage before and after each use. Get repairs done by a professional knife sharpener. • For fixed-blade knives, check that the hilt and pommel are securely attached. Tighten as needed.
- Wipe down wooden handles regularly and treat them with tung or linseed oil to prevent drying and cracking. • Avoid submerging folding knives in liquid which can damage the internal parts.
- Have your knife professionally sharpened once a season or if chips/damage are present. They have the proper equipment to restore the edge.
With ongoing maintenance and care, your hunting knife will stay as sharp and reliable as the day you first unsheathed it. Take the time to inspect, clean, and sharpen it regularly—your hunting success depends on it!
Hunting Knife FAQs – Your Top Questions Answered
So you’re ready to purchase a hunting knife but have some questions first. We’ve got you covered. Here are the most frequently asked questions about hunting knives answered:
What types of hunting knives are there?
The two main categories are fixed blades and folding knives. Fixed-blade knives have a blade that remains stationary while folding knives have a blade that folds into the handle. Within those, there are various styles for specific purposes:
- Bowie knives: Large, sharp blades good for skinning and slicing.
- Drop point knives: Rounded tip, good for slicing and stabbing. Popular for hunting.
- Gut hook knives: Have a hook to easily open the abdomen without slicing internal organs. Helpful when field dressing.
- Skinning knives: Thin, curved blade makes it easy to separate hide from meat.
What size hunting knife do I need?
It depends on what you’ll be using it for. In general:
- 2 to 3 inches: Good for delicate tasks like caping or skinning small game. Easy to carry.
- 3 to 4 inches: All-purpose size, can skin most medium-sized game.
- 4 inches and over Best for rugged tasks like cutting through bone or chopping wood. May be too large to control for fine cutting.
Choose a size that balances portability with your intended uses. You can also get a multi-tool with multiple blade options.
How much should I spend on a hunting knife?
You can find quality hunting knives at a range of price points:
- Under $50: Decent entry-level knives for occasional use. May need frequent sharpening.
- $50 to $150: Mid-range knives offer good performance at a reasonable price. Can get knives for specific types of hunting.
- $150 and up Premium knives feature high-quality, corrosion-resistant steel and durable handles. Hold an edge well and last a lifetime with proper care.
In the end, buy the highest quality knife you can afford. A hunting knife is a long-term investment and can make field dressing and skinning easier and safer when done right.
That’s all there is to it when it comes to the main varieties of hunting knives and how to select the ideal blade for your requirements. We have everything you need, whether you’re looking for a precise fillet knife, a specialized skinning knife, or a multipurpose survival knife. Now go forth and utilise these knives effectively in the open air. I hope your game bags remain full and your knife stays sharp. A thrilling journey is ahead!