Best Hunting Knife…
This Article Covers:
Types Of Hunting Knives
Good Quality – Great Price!
I’m sure you already know the importance of quality fixed blade hunting knives when in remote areas, whether it is your main skinning knife or a good solid camp knife the success of your hunting trip may depend on the type of knife you choose.
The two best-hunting knives I own, have proven themselves over the years, both are reliable long-term favourites.
I always hunt with these two knives…
The Swiss-made Victorinox Boning Knife or the USA designed Outdoor Edge Swingblade.
7 Best Hunting Knives [Compare]
|SwingBlade ||Read Our Full Review|
|Boning Knife||7 Boning Knives Reviewed|
|863 Selkirk||Read Our Full Review|
|Morakniv BushCraft ||Read Our Full Review|
|Steep Country 15008|
My choice from the seven hunting knives listed above would be the
Victorinox Boning Knife as well as the Outdoor Edge Swingblade.
Both come from respected brands,
Ensuring excellent quality at competitive prices.
Hunting Knife Brands
- Buck Knives: 110 years making hunting knives, they now offer a range of knives mainly using 420HC, but also 154CM, S30V, Knife Steel, as well they provide professional services, including – custom knife shop, repair service, knife sharpening, and knife steel heat-treating.
- Outdoor Edge: design and manufacture unique knives such as the Outdoor Edge Razor Pro with its famously sharp replaceable blades, as well complete Hunting Knife Sets for the dedicated hunter… they also produce an excellent range of “Tools” for the great outdoors, using a range of stainless knife steel, such as 8Cr13MoV, 420J2 and 440A or AUS-8 used in the Swingblade, this is my favourite deer gutting knife the separate specialised gutting blade so quick and easy to use… I have used the same 2 bladed Swingblade for years – I love it!
- Victorinox: Known for Quality Kitchen Knives, but for me, the Boning Knife and Field Dressing Kits, from their Fibrox Range is up there with the best hunting knives in the world. Swiss-made, with high carbon, or stainless steel blades using X55CrMo14
- Morakniv: The Mora Bushcraft is a popular iconic knife among outdoor types worldwide…but there is more to this Swedish Knife Company than a single camp knife. Using both stainless and carbon steel they make a full range of quality knives from fillet knives for the kitchen, to survival knives for the outdoors.
Hunting Knife Reviews
SwingBlade by Outdoor Edge.
This is one of the best hunting knives I have owned – so versatile.
Two Blades In One Knife, both are very useful and sharp, made from Japanese AUS-8 stainless steel.
The blades alternately swivel into the handle with a simple click of a button.
I have owned my SwingBlade for almost 10 years as you can see from the photo’s it is still in great condition.
I mainly use it for gutting and skinning deer but it is a good all-rounder if you are looking for a camp knife.
Best Deer Gutting Knife I’ve Ever Used
I had to clean a couple of deer before I started to like the gutting blade.
Traditionally I’m not a fan of them, at least not those little gut hooks on the back of many skinning knives.
This gutting blade is totally different – it actually works!
I wouldn’t want to use another type of deer gutting knife now – if I lost this one I would buy another as soon as possible.
Smooth As A Zip
The gutting blade is actually a separate blade, it’s slightly curved with a blunt bulb at the end, this bulb reduces the chance of cutting/puncturing the gut lining, avoiding a smelly mess, perhaps even tainting your meat!
In a way, it works a bit like a zipper, as you can very quickly make the leg and belly cuts opening up the animal for skinning and gutting.
When I do the opening cuts along each leg and belly the gut hook cuts the skin from the flesh side out, ensuring the gutting blade seldom comes into contact with deer hair.
So the Outdoor Edge Gutting Blade stays sharp longer!
Drop Point Skinning Blade
At [3.6″] almost 4″ the beefy drop point blade is ideal for skinning larger game animals.
Both blades have shown they are made for hard work, I use the Swingblade a lot for gutting and skinning deer.
The knife feels great to hold and use, whether it is raining, or it is covered in blood, it, feels secure in my hand, thanks in part to the non-slip rubberized Handle.
The whole package has a nice balance, for such a cheap hunting knife.
To me, good edge retention and balance, is important, as it ensures the knife is comfortable to hold and fast to use…
Deer Gutting Blade /Skinning Knife
My Swingblade is now 10 years old, but still works flawlessly, still swivels smoothly, still works like new, though the blade is a little stained after dressing out a lot of deer.
I Wouldn’t Want To Be Without This Knife!
Outdoor Edge obviously has confidence in their knives, as I do…
– They offer a Lifetime Warranty.
Victorinox Boning Knife – Review
Boning Knife by Victorinox
Its full name is a bit of a mouthful…
“Victorinox 6 Inch Curved Fibrox Pro Boning Knife”
As with all Victorinox fixed blade knives, it is very easy to maintain, sharpen, and great to use.
Quality Stainless Blade
Its made from “Quality European Stainless” popular with butchers and professional cooks who successfully test these knives every day on the job…
Normally X55CrMo14 or 1.4110 is used in Swiss Army Knives as well as Inox blade steel used by Victorinox as they don’t state exactly the steel used in this knife I assume it is either Inox blade steel, X55CrMo14 or 1.4110
The amazing versatility and value of a good quality boning knife is the reason I use a similar knife when deer hunting.
Good Hunting Knife
If you combine it with a skinning knife set as I do, you will have the perfect budget hunting knife set for most game animals or butchering farm animals.
How To Clean
Victorinox Swiss Army recommends washing all knives by hand. For best results, hand wash your knives with a soapy cloth and dry immediately.
Made in Switzerland by Victorinox since 1884 with a lifetime guarantee against defects in material and workmanship.
Buck 119 Special – Review
119 Special by Buck Knives
The 119 Special is a fixed blade 6″ Clip Point hunting knife made from 420HC steel this has excellent strength, edge retention, and corrosion resistance that will last for years.
Well Balanced Knife
Classic phenolic handle with polished aluminium guard provides both style and good balance when in use.
This one of Buck’s top-selling knives.
The 119 Special is a knife that’s often handed down from generation to generation.
Included is a high-quality leather sheath.
I Want One
I remember this knife from way back when I first started hunting in the 80s, I always wanted one but like most young hunters starting out, I had to settle for what I could afford…
With a Lifetime Warranty, the 119 Special is a rugged timeless hunting knife with the popular clip point fixed blade.
Made In The USA
119 Special was first created by Buck Knives in 1942 from 420HC steel and all credit to them as it is still Proudly Made In The USA.
Buck 863 Selkirk – Review
863 Selkirk by Buck Knives
Buck Knives (est) 1902
The design and build of all Buck Knives benefit from its long history of knife making.
Buck Knives was first established in 1902.
Like all Buck Knives,
863 Selkirk is made from quality stainless and sold with an impressive lifetime warranty.
The Selkirk is a light, well-balanced, fixed blade skinning knife it is also suitable for general use around camp.
It is not heavy enough to cut firewood! buy a chopper or a small axe for that.
Best Blade Type For Skinning
I especially like the Selkirk blade shape not only is it pleasing to my eye, drop point is my preferred blade style for skinning large game like deer.
Drop Point Blade
If you have skinned anything at all?
You will know the main benefit of a well-designed drop point blade like on the 863 Selkirk is the curved blade speeds up the skinning process as well as reduces the chance of cutting an ugly hole in your “once in a lifetime” Trophy Skin.
Over the years Buck Knives has put a lot of work into improving its heat treatment.
They now manage to treat 420HC to Rockwell Hardness of 58.
Resulting in a knife steel that is strong but easy to sharpen, and retains its edge.
Freeman Guide – Review
Freeman Guide by Gerber
Founded in 1939, Gerber Knives is constantly innovating as they produce new and better knife designs.
Based in Portland, Oregon, USA.
An Iconic American Brand whose products have a global reach.
Fixed Blade Skinning Knife
The Freeman Guide is a result of those innovations, It comes with a popular drop point fixed blade made from stainless steel – The blade shape and length make it ideal for skinning deer and general camp use.
I really like the look of this knife, I almost brought it 5-6 years ago because of its simple no-nonsense style, plus it feels really nice in hand.
They are similar to Buck in that some knives are imported as the Freeman Guide [China] to keep the costs down, other Gerber knives are still made in the US.
Though I only own one knife and a meat clever from China at the moment, I find their knife steel sharpens really easy and stays sharp.
After all, the Chinese have been making knives and knife steel for thousands of years, so that shouldn’t surprise anyone?
Gerber is a popular trusted US brand with a strong following of “Outdoor Types” who totally rely on Gerber knives.
Morakniv Bushcraft by Morakniv
If you are looking for the best hunting knife or survival combo the Swedish made Morakniv Bushcraft stainless steel 4.3-inch Fixed-Blade Survival Knife with Integrated Fire Starter and Sharpener is an excellent option.
Survival Or Hunting
Its multi-purpose sheath adds huge value to a well built durable knife, its integrated fire starter and diamond sharpener make it the ultimate bushcraft knife.
Quality Blade Steel
The stainless blade is specially ground so that it can be used with the fire starter.
The knife’s Hi-Vis Orange colour is a nice touch, no more searching blindly for your knife every time you put it down.
Sandvik Stainless Steel
The versatile Sandvik Steel, used in the Morakniv Bushcraft is rated for marine, fishing, outdoor, and construction applications…
Where knives see hard use, exposed to dirt, rain, blood, or saltwater this fixed blade knife would be the right choice.
15008 Steep Country – Review
Steep Country 15008 by Benchmade
The Steep Country 15008’s drop-point fixed blade is a well-balanced versatile hunting knife proudly made in the USA.
CPM-S30V Blade Steel
CPM-S30V stainless steel offers superb edge qualities and rust resistance, so you can be confident your Steep Country Knife will not let you down even when hunting in adverse conditions.
Experienced hunters will know a fixed blade, full tang knife provides greater strength and reliability, this simplicity in design also makes the knife easy to clean.
If you like to carry your knife on your belt there numerous carrying positions to choose from, thanks to the fully adaptable moulded Kydex Sheath.
5 Types Of Hunting Knives
- Skinning Knife: there are several styles of skinning knives each has specific pros and cons, the skinning blade I like the most is Drop Point, but you may find a Clip Point Blade more versatile if you only carry one knife.
- Boning Knife: Used for breaking down and boning out a larger game like Deer, Elk or Moose, for easier transport, this is a very useful versatile type of knife to own, especially if you hunt remote areas where you process the meat put it into a backpack and walk it out, as I do.
- Gut Hooks: can be either a sharpened hook, on the back of a skinning knife or a dedicated deer gutting blade, as you would find on the Swingblade by Outdoor Edge. I’m not a fan of most gut hooks on the back of a blade, when I try to use them they seem to catch on to things they shouldn’t? But I do like the Swingblade gutting system, it is precise and easy to use.
- Caping Knife: These are smaller knives with fine narrow blades used for carefully removing the head skin of trophy animals, a specialist knife in most cases, but you could use a good quality folding knife with a slim clip point blade.
- Camp Knife: This group of knives could cover just about anything with a blade as a camp knife is used for a variety of tasks, Bowie Knives or Machetes are used the most for heavy work as they stand up to chopping wood… personally I would rate the Morakiniv Bushcraft as a must-own camp/survival knife.
Best Hunting Knife Set…
10 years ago I spent $70 on two deer hunting knives [Swingblade and a Fixed Blade Boning Knife] they have never let me down!
I have used the same two knives successfully for years, I wouldn’t want to hunt without either one – combined they would cost under $100 to buy today.
2 Knives For Under $100?
My aim is to help you research and buy the best hunting knife set for the job.
Whether you are looking for a 3″ clip point blade for cleaning birds and small game or a larger skinning knife-gut hook combination alongside a fixed blade boning knife, which in my opinion is the ultimate knife set for field dressing deer…
Buy The Best – But Don’t Pay More Than You Need To!
Best Steel For Hunting Knives?
Do you even need the best knife steel for your working knife? – Well, it depends…
Hardness in knife steels is often measured using the Rockwell C test.
Hardened knife steels are generally about 58/62 HRC (hardness Rockwell C) but can go up to 62 HRC
What I find when cleaning deer in the field or butchering the meat at home, all I need is AUS-8 or even the “softer” stainless steels like 420HC [RC 57/58] popular for their durability, it’s rust-resistant, all good features in a working knife.
When I’m in the middle of nowhere, up to my elbows in blood gutting a deer… For Me, reliability, ease of sharpening, and toughness… are the main criteria I look for when buying a hunting knife.
Both my current hunting knives take the abuse you would expect from real-world use, they don’t rust, they hold a working edge, but are considered just average steel by some people? both are AUS-8 stainless with a carbon content close to 0.75%.
Sharpening Hunting Knives
Whetstone for Hunting Knives
For my run of the mill production knives, the 1000/6000 Whetstone works great, I can quickly recover a working edge using the 1000 grit and progress through to the 6000 grit to polish my edge.
If your knife has been damaged such as chips in the cutting edge, or if you feel the need to change the bevel angle, you would need a course whetstone to speed things up, 320 grit is what I would use initially to repair a damaged blade, then progress through 1000 to 6000 to recover/polish my working edge.
I soak the whetstone for 15minutes or until the air bubble stop, then I touch up each blade, normally all I need is a couple passes with the 1000 grit then onto the 6000 grit using an Aluminium Oxide sharpening stone similar to this 1000/6000 Whetstone available on Amazon.
What Bevel Angle Is Best?
I normally keep the same bevel angle the knife had when it left the factory it’s more important to keep a consistent angle whenever you sharpen your knife – a bevel angle guide that is supplied with some whetstones is useful for retaining a consistent angle.
Buck sharpens their knives to 13-16°. other knife makers recommend 20° it will depend on your knife and how hard you are using your knife (abusing it) 20° is stronger, 13-16°, in theory, will cut better, though in the real world I doubt you will notice the difference.
Stainless Steel For Hunting Knives?
Rather than steel hardness I look for toughness in my knife blades, for me hunting knives have to be well made, tough, lightweight, well balanced, and comfortable to use.
Most Important – A Good Hunting Knife Must Hold Its Edge Until The Job Is Done!
Both of my cheap and cheerful AUS-8 Stainless Steel Hunting Knives live up to expectations, whatever the conditions or I wouldn’t own them.
If someone says you must have this…! or must have that…? Test It, For Yourself, then buy the knife that works for you, at a price you are comfortable spending!
Frequently Asked Questions…
Q. How To Choose A Hunting Knife?
- Knife Size For Hunting: The game you expect to hunt will dictate your knife size, cleaning and skinning small game like fox or rabbits requires an easy to maneuver slim blade 3-4″ long, a good folding knife from Buck Knives would suit.
For larger game animals like deer, I would use a 4-6″ fixed blade knife.
- Best Blade Shape For Hunting: Drop point for skinning/cleaning game, Clip Point for general use and skinning/cleaning game, Skinning Blade as the name suggests is best for skinning, Swingblade is unique for its skinning blade and excellent deer gutting blade, a great choice if you choose to carry only one knife. For Cleaning Deer, I use this Swingblade combined with a Boning Knife…
- Best Knife Handle For Hunting: Non-Slip Rubber or Plastic Handles last the longest… Composite, Wood, Bone looks the best, comes down to what floats your boat. For hunting knives, I go with synthetic scales like G-10, as well as Rubberized or Plastic handles as they last for years.
- Best Knife Steel For Hunting Knives: I love Stainless Steel – 420HC stainless steel as used in many of Buck or Gerber Knives.
AUS-8 stainless as used in my Swingblade and Boning Knife, AUS-8 is my favourite hunting knife steel at the moment – I can testify, both knives sharpen easily and hold an edge all day.
VG-10 is another popular steel used in folding and fixed blade knives Made By Spyderco, Cold Steel, and Fallkniven.
- Don’t choose a hunting knife just to impress… or looks pretty, choose a Knife that will do the job for you – It is a tool.
Q. What Is The Best Whetstone For Hunting Knives?
- What I use is a double-sided Whetstone like this 1000/6000 Whetstone available on Amazon. 1000/6000 is a great grit combination to start with, especially when your knife is new or slightly damaged. Now that I’m happy with the edge on my knives, I would be better with a slimmer, lighter, single-sided Whetstone with around 6000 grit, just to touch up my knives after use.
Q. What Is The Best Boning Knife For Deer?
- The Victorinox Boning Knife is my first choice, they are a great price, made to last, hold an edge, which is why they are popular with butchers and chefs… as they stand up to hard professional use.
Like all professional boning knives the Victorinox offers several blade types, my preference is a straight blade or slightly Curved Stiff Blade for boning out deer
Q. What Is The Best Skinning Knife?
- I admit to a strong bias, The knife I currently own is the best skinning knife! – Swingblade by Outdoor Edge, If you read my review you will understand why I like it so much…
Skinning Knives will have a curved point in various blade sizes, the larger the curve the more specialized to skinning the blade is. If you want a good “all-rounder” skinning knife then choose a drop point or clip point blade.
For caping [skinning trophy head skins] a slim longish clip point blade around 4″ would suit, Boker or CRT Knives sell a few nice folding skinner knives, I would be happy to use them for caping.