Types of Hunting Knives:Which is Best?By Trent Gander |
Hunting knives are knives you use during some part of the hunting process. This can range from building camp to harvesting an animal to dispatching dangerous game. The problem with classifying hunting knives is that many designs overlap with both the types of hunting knives and other general knife classifications.
Which one is best is even more subjective since there are many types of hunting, with their own unique needs.
We’re going to look at the five major types of hunting knives and what they’re good for. With that in mind, we won’t be talking about knife sets. Each of these options is going to focus on a single knife rather than something like a field processing kit. This narrows our focus to the benefits of the knife itself rather than the system it might be a part of.
- Best General Use Hunting Knife: Muela Husky 4 Inch Fixed Blade
- Best Folding Meat Processing Knife: Outdoor Edge Razor Blaze 3.5 Inch Folding Knife
- Best Skinning Knife: Old Timer Sharpfinger 3.3 inch Fixed Blade
- Best Multi-functional Hunting Folder: Havalon Titan Jim Shocky Signature Series 2.88 Inch Folding Knife
- Most Affordable Traditional Hunting Knife: Uncle Henry Staglon 4.25 Inch Fixed Blade
- Best Meat Processing Fixed Blade: Benchmade MeatCrafter 6 Inch Fixed Blade
- Best Traditional Hunting Knife: Buck Knives Pathfinder Pro 5 Inch Fixed Blade
- Best Modern style Hunting Knife: Cold Steel Knives Outdoorsman Lite 6 Inch Fixed Blade
- Best General Hunting Folder: Benchmade Taggedout 3.5 Inch folding Knife
- Best Dangerous Game Knife: Buck Knives General Pro 7.4 Inch Fixed Blade
Hunting Knife Advantages and Disadvantages
Knives have been connected to hunting since hunting was invented. In order to appreciate what they bring to the hunt we have to know the advantages and disadvantages each category has. These advantages or disadvantages will all hinge on your abilities to use the knife.
An advantage in one aspect of hunting is a disadvantage in another. In order to choose the best knife for your hunt, you have to balance your needs and the inconvenience that a particular knife might have.
|Hunting Knife Type||Uses, Benefits and Purpose|
|General Hunting Knife||
|Meat Processing Knife||
|Hunting Knife for Dangerous Game||
|Folding Hunting Knife||
General Hunting Knives
This is the broadest category of hunting knives and often bridges the gap between camping and fighting knives. General hunting knives or general-use hunting knives provide the best compromise in terms of features, size, and ability when it comes to hunting.
These are the types of knives you can bring on any hunt and are the designs you should focus on if you plan on having only one hunting knife.
Skinning knives or skinners are the first specialized knife we encounter for hunting knives. Skinners focus primarily on removing animal hide and retain some ability to do other light cutting tasks. Their blades are usually under 5 inches in length in order to provide better control and access while following the contours of the animal.
Meat Processing Knives
These are the second most specialized hunting knife designs. A meat processing knife is used to harvest the animal in the field, at the camp, or even after the animal is cooked. The knife’s entire purpose is cutting and removing meat. Blade lengths can range anywhere from 3 inches to 7 inches and usually resemble carving knives and scalpels.
Hunting Knife for Dangerous Game
These are the most specialized styles of hunting knife. Using a knife on a dangerous animal to kill it puts a lot of stress on the knife. These types of hunting knives need to be able to get through thick hides and still be able to reach vital organs. This means the knives usually have a pronounced piercing tip and long blades.
A 6 to 10 inch blade is not uncommon on these types of knives especially when paired with a spear or clip point. Handguards and other safety features are usually more pronounced on these types of hunting knife in order to keep your hand from running up on the blade during use.
Folding Hunting Knife
Folding hunting knives are mostly for convenience. A folding knife can be thrown in a pocket or hunting bag so you don’t forget it. Their purpose can range from a general-use hunting knife to a small meat processing blade. However, they are not designed for heavier cutting tasks like building a camp.
Top Ten Hunting Knife Options
Best General Use Hunting Knife: Muela Husky 4 Inch Fixed BladeCheck Price
If I was only going to hunt medium game or smaller and I only wanted one knife this Muela Husky would be one of my first considerations.
The 4 inch blade gives me a knife that is very good for most utility tasks. Its solid tang construction and Clip point/Drop point blade will allow me to prepare camp and process game. The design is timeless and I could use it in my day to day life.
Since it isn’t a 5-7 inch blade I could carry it more often since it won’t take up a lot of room on my belt with an overall length of 8.4 inches. While I do prefer my knives to be closer to 7 inches in the blade, at this knife’s price point I would try to use it as much as possible to get my money’s worth.
If you’re more into the firearms aspect of hunting, a good solid knife like this one will allow you to put more focus towards your next rifle or shotgun without having to worry about your knife failing.
Best Folding Meat Processing Knife: Outdoor Edge Razor Blaze 3.5 Inch Folding KnifeCheck Price
Venison is easily my favorite meat and this folder is going to help me get more of it from my hunt. The interchangeable blades make breaking down a deer easier since I won’t have to stop and touch up the edge of my knife. I’ll just swap out the dull blade and get back to work. This is especially useful if I know there are predators who also like deer in the area.
This folder is affordable, easy to use, easily seen, and really focuses on one task. It could be used for more general purpose cutting with the interchangeable blades, but where it really shines is as a dedicated processing tool that I keep in my hunting gear year round.
The 3.5 inch blade is controllable and the rubberized grip helps keep the blade in my hands, no matter what’s on them. If you don’t want to spend a lot on a knife just to process meat, this is going to be your best option.
Best Skinning Knife: Old Timer Sharpfinger 3.3 inch Fixed BladeCheck Price
Old Timer Sharpfingers are easily one of my favorite skinning knife designs. The trailing point allows for long cuts and the 3.3 inch blade will be able to get into all the crevices to fully separate the hide.
It can also serve as a pretty good utility knife for your daily, light cutting tasks. The only drawback with the design is that you are locked into skinning and other low impact work. This version comes with a leather belt sheath which is better than most of the other copies of this knife that use nylon or similar sheath materials.
While you will have to take care of the leather more than nylon, the leather won’t degrade as quickly as the nylon with regular use. This Sharpfinger is great if you need a skinning knife, everyday carry knife, or a knife to supplement your other woodsman gear
Best Multi-functional Hunting Folder: Havalon Titan Jim Shocky Signature Series 2.88 Inch Folding KnifeCheck Price
If I was on a budget and wanted my daily work knife to also function as my hunting knife, I’d choose this Havalon folder. It has a good sized work blade and a secondary scalpel blade. This will handle most of my normal cutting tasks and the finer tasks of getting the most meat from the bone.
It’s not as Specialized as an Outdoor Edge blade, but it is a better “do-it-all” option for hunting on a budget.
Most Affordable Traditional Hunting/Skinning Knife: Uncle Henry Staglon 4.25 Inch Fixed BladeCheck Price
I love a good fixed blade, but I also like to not spend too much money on my knives. This Uncle Henry Staglon is a great option if you need a traditional style hunting knife, but don’t want to spend over $100 on a knife.
The 4.25 inch clip point blade can handle most tasks from general use to skinning and making camp. The leather sheath keeps the blade handy on the belt, but there is one drawback to the knife. It’s on the heavier side.
The overall length of the blade is 8.5 inches and it weighs 5.3 ounces. Now this doesn’t sound like much, but this knife is only 1 ½ inches longer but weighs almost double the weight of the Sharpfinger. That extra blade length is not going to add that much cutting ability.
This is a good option if you are only going to have one knife that doesn’t break your bank.
Best Meat Processing Fixed Blade: Benchmade MeatCrafter 6 Inch Fixed BladeCheck Price
The Meatcrafter is one of those blades I keep coming back to as a perfect example of hyper focus. This blade is amazing at processing meat. The edge is extremely sharp but it has enough flexibility to debone, trim, and slice all of your meat.
It’s great in the field and great in the kitchen. The handle ergonomics makes it very controllable but the only reason I haven’t added it to my collection yet is the price and the fact that I wouldn’t use it very often.
If you are working with meat regularly, you really need to consider adding this knife to your collection. It would make everything easier, especially for larger roasts and legs.
Best Traditional Hunting Knife: Buck Knives Pathfinder Pro 5 Inch Fixed BladeCheck Price
If I had to have only one traditional hunting knife, I would choose the Pathfinder Pro 5. The reason being that the 5 inch blade is just long enough to be used for almost any hunting task including taking down an animal. That being said, it would not be my first choice for boar.
It has a very good clip point design, it’s light, it has a sturdy handle design, and it comes with a leather sheath. With all of these benefits I can ignore the price especially if it is going to be my only hunting knife.
This is one of the best examples of a fully general-use knife, but it covers so many different categories I have to call it the best traditional hunting knife.
Best Modern style Hunting Knife: Cold Steel Knives Outdoorsman Lite 6 Inch Fixed BladeCheck Price
Sometimes we need a new design for an old task. This Cold Steel Outdoorsman Lite has a lot going for it. It’s affordable, it has a very sturdy blade, reinforced tip, and a good cutting edge.
The texture on the grip helps keep it from slipping out of your hand, and for most tasks the blade is long enough to deal with them. This is a great blade to keep with your hunting gear and not worry about it until the next season.
However, the rubber finger guard does not fill me with confidence when I consider stabbing with the blade. I love the straight back design but the guard doesn’t give me the confidence I need to use this blade to its fullest potential.
Best General Hunting Folder: Benchmade Taggedout 3.5 Inch folding KnifeCheck Price
If I had to go through multiple jurisdictions and wanted to keep my hunting knife on me, I would heavily consider the Benchmade Taggedout for my folding knife. The design is geared towards being lightweight and the clip point blade brings my preferred level of utility.
The bright orange handle scales make it harder to lose, and the entire knife comes in at 2.1 ounces. I could hike all day and not notice it. It can handle a good variety of tasks and it can be used to process some game, but I won’t be batoning any wood with it.
Best Dangerous Game Knife: Buck Knives General Pro 7.4 Inch Fixed BladeCheck Price
Sometimes you just need a big knife. This is usually when there are dangerous predators and prey in the area. The General Pro 7.4 from Buck is right around my ideal length for a big knife without sacrificing too much utility.
The 7.4 inch blade is a little longer than my favorite KABAR and the guard is a little more robust. If I’m going to be using something like this on a wild pig, I want to be sure my hand won’t slip. The clip point blade is also narrower, allowing for better penetration. And it weighs 8.3 ounces.
If I was pulling out all the stops for a pig hunt, I’d definitely pick this blade up and maybe a custom leather or kydex sheath to replace the one it came with.