What makes a great hunting knife depends on the frequency of your hunting. If your knife is solely used for hunting, and your family already knows that neither rain nor sleet nor snow will keep you from the woods where the wildlife await, you probably should be searching for a fixed-blade knife.
However, if you want a versatile knife that suits your hunting needs but can also be used for everyday purposes that don’t involve getting up close and personal with animal intestines, you may want to purchase a smaller, folding-blade knife.
But before you get to the point of deciding whether you’re the fixed-blade or a folding-blade type, there are other things you need to know about finding the best hunting knife for you.
Best Hunting Knife: What to Look for?
What is crucial to any knife is the sharpness of the blade. In a hunting knife, that need for sharpness is even more emphasized.
But the knife also needs to be easy to hold and maneuver, because a hunting knife has a job to do, much of it taking place inside the body cavity of the animal that needs to be skinned, gutted, and butchered. You don’t want to have to deal with a handle that’s wet and slippery, not only if the weather is inclement, but when it’s in use and the blood, fat, and tissue from the animal has coated the handle of the hunting knife.
The knife must also be easy to sharpen while in the field, as well. The steel of the blade should be of good quality, able to hold its sharpness, but avoid hard high-tech stainless steel, because its brittleness makes it too difficult to sharpen while in the field.
In What Situations is a Hunting Knife Used?
What are you hunting? Rabbit? Deer? Big Game? The nature of the animal you’ve successfully hunted determines the kind of knife that you’ll need.
Remember that your knife has to tackle the post-hunting aspect of the process, which is transforming your quarry from prey to dinner by skinning its hide and splitting through bone, field dressing, gutting, and butchering.
Before you choose your knife, be sure that you know what you’re hunting. A knife that’s just right for providing the meat for Granny Clampett’s squirrel stew isn’t going to be the kind of knife that Ernest Hemingway would have taken on an African safari.
As for you fisherman out there—you shouldn’t feel like your being neglected or left out of this conversation. In fact, a folding knife with a Tanto blade comes in handy for cleaning and scaling fish. Thanks to its serrated edge, it’s also useful for skinning small game.
Fixed Blade vs Folding Blade: Pros and Cons
Fixed blade vs folding blade when it comes to hunting? Which should I choose, and why? Well, let’s break it down.
First, let’s examine the most obvious question—what is a fixed blade knife?
A fixed-blade is made from one solid piece of metal. This type of knife, which in addition to hunting knives includes survival, combat, boot, and diving knives, is permanently open. The knife is also called a “sheath knife” because it’s carried in a sheath that’s made of a sturdy and durable material such as leather.
A fixed-blade knife is stronger than a folding knife because it’s made of a single piece of metal. It’s more durable, and a knife can be handed down from generation to generation. The absence of moving parts means that it lasts longer.
For the serious hunter, the fixed knife is the better choice. Its disadvantages are that it’s bulkier and longer than the average folding knife. It must be carried in a sheath and isn’t as easy to transport. The fixed-blade can get in the way when the hunter is using a tree stand or moving through the woods.
A folding knife, also referred to as a pocket knife, is a knife that has a blade which folds into the handle of the knife. The primary advantage of a folding knife is its compact size, making it convenient to carry because the knife folds in half.
The knife can be slipped into a pocket, or the sheath can be attached to a belt. Folding knives are often lighter than a fixed-blade knife because many of the folding knives use synthetic material for the handle. The folding-blade knife has a mechanism which allows for one-handed opening, as well. Many folding knives have more than one blade which adds to their convenience.
However, despite these advantages, there are drawbacks to the folding knives. Folding knives are more difficult to clean due to the moving parts and the opening in the handle where the knife folds. Due to the movement of a folding knife, these knives are more likely to break.
Folding knives, with the inherent weak points stemming from the hollow handle and pivot point where the blade folds, lack the strength of the fixed-blade knife. The blade channel collects blood and tissue after use, making the knife difficult to clean. The release latch on the locking blade is inconvenient.
What is the Proper Way to Use a Hunting Knife?
- Keep the sharp edge of the knife away from you because the edge that needs to be sharp enough to cut through tendons can leave you looking as bloody as the game you’ve hunted.
- Keep the knife sheathed so that the blade is covered and the knife remains accessible.
- When using the knife, hold it with a firm grip and push the blade away from your body.
- Make sure that your thumb is secure, and not on the blade, so that it won’t slip when it becomes wet from blood, fat, etc. You may want to buy a hunting knife that comes equipped with a thumb rest.
- If throwing the knife, use it as a spear and avoid throwing it on a hard surface, as the knife could bounce off the surface and end up striking you.
- Wash the blade with soap and warm water when you’re finished using it, in order to remove bacteria.
- Keep the blade sharp using either a sharpening stone or an electric sharpener.
- Remember that the knife is a weapon, not a toy. You can learn more tips about the proper use of a hunting knife to help you maintain the appropriate respect for this weapon. An important tip for the hunting knife user is to maintain focus in order to avoid injury to yourself or to your hunting gear.
Best-Selling Hunting Knives
Now that you’ve explored the traits of the hunting knives, and gauged your level of hunting passion, you’re ready to purchase the best knife that’s right for you.
Below are some of the best selling hunting knives available on the market today!
- The MTECH XTREME USA MX-8027A Tactical Folding Knife with a 5-inch closed blade is an all-around knife that serves its purpose for the low price of $8.44 and in general, holds up to hard usage, although some customers report that the screws have come loose. Other customer complaints include the failure of the locking mechanism, the clip breaking, and a loose pivot bolt. Customer reviews seem to indicate that this knife may fall under the “you get what you pay for” category.
- The Buck 119BKS Spec Hunting 6-inch Knife: A buck hunting knife is one of the most coveted by knife enthusiast. The classic 110 goes back decades, and here, the 119 hunting knife wins high marks for holding up the legendary Buck quality, durability, and strength. This fixed-blade knife is described by one owner as the “’57 Chevy” of knives.
- Tac Force TF-705 Series Knife: This is a fantastic, and quite affordable knife, for those that know they’ll be heading on camping trips. This is definitely one of the sharpest knives you can find on the market today, and while you no doubt want a quality knife to help get your food, this is also a handy knife for everyday carry and simple tasks like opening cans and breaking glass. This knife comes with a half serrated stainless steel blade and multiple different colored handles. The blade runs approximately 3 inches.
- Morakniv Companion Outdoors Fixed Blade Knife: Here is a great all purpose knife if you consider yourself a true outdoors type man or woman. Let’s first talk some specs, as this knife comes with a carbon steel blade that’s 4.1 inches long. Blade thickness is 0.10 inches, and the total length of the knife is 8.6’’. The Morakniv is a strong hunting knife with a fine edge, and while some may not prefer the plastic sheath it comes with, its contoured grip and drop point design more than make up for it. Do note: Because this is a carbon steel knife, it does not play well with salt water. So unless you want your new knife to rust, I recommend you resist all temptation to throw this baby into known bodies of salt water. If you absolutely need a knife that can handle salt water, you are probably better off choosing the Morakniv stainless steel knife instead.
- The Kershaw 1670S30V Blur Knife is sharp and fast. This folding knife holds up the Kershaw brand. This knife comes with S30V stainless steel, and comes with Kershaw’s known SpeedSafe assisted opening system. For those that may not know, the SpeedSafe assisted opening allows easy and safe one handed use of this knife. This knife measures just under 8 inches when fully opened, and the Trac-Tec handles is maintains a nice grip whenever this knife gets wet from use in the water or rain. And to top it all off, this Kershaw Blur Knife is made in the USA.
You may want to consider the original Cutco hunting knife, too. This blade is made out of 440A High-Carbon, Stainless Steel.
What Are the Best Knife Brands?
The top-notch makers of hunting knives keep their customers loyal because of the consistent quality of their wares. Fans of knives made by Buck, Case, Gerber, Browning, and Kershaw go back to the same source when they need a new knife because of customer satisfaction.
Shopping for the right knife can take you to specialty hunting stores, online retailers, or even the local mall. Some online sources include Backcountry.com, AtticTrunk.com, and Bailey’s online.
Cabela’s is an excellent source of hunting equipment, including knives. But if you’re shopping with your family at the mall, while they’re checking out American Eagle or Macy’s, you can head down to the knife case at Sears for your own shopping needs. That way, everyone goes home happy—well, at least until you get that expensive credit card bill in the mail.
Hopefully, this article better helps you be able to determine the best knife that best fits your needs.
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