This Article Covers:
Choosing Pocket Knives…
As much as I love a Good Pocket Knife, I have to be honest my preference is for fixed blades when I’m hunting, but I do concede… folding knives have an important place in my pack – as a back-up knife.
I Have A Bias…
Despite the bias, over the years, I have successfully used several pocket knives from various brands for skinning small game when I was trapping and occasionally deer when I only had a folding knife with me at the time…
Best Folding Knives
A couple of folders I consider to meet the criteria “Best Pocket Knife For Hunting” are adapted from popular fixed blade knives such as Gerbers – folding Gator Clip Point, and Bucks – folding Selkirk.
In my experience, the best folding knives are made by Buck, Gerber, or SOG, but this is changing, so of course, you’re not limited to these 3 Brands…
This article covers “Need To Know Buying Tips” as I compare 7 pocket knives including lesser-known Brands that produce solid pocket knives – 100% Suitable For Hunters.
7 Best Pocket Knives For Hunting – Compare
SOG Folding Knife
Best Pocket Knife
Buying a folding knife for hunting is a smart move, either as a camp knife or for small game.
I always carry it as my back-up, its great for skinning even larger animals like deer, once the animal is opened up.
I brought a 3″ Drop Point Gerber pocket knife about 8 years ago, to be fair it is a bit small for what I use it for, but originally it was supposed to be my every day carry and camp knife, rather than a hunting knife.
I should have just gone ahead and paid the few extra dollars for the Gerber Gator,
The standard folding Gerber Gator [or Gerber Gator Premium] with a 3.6″ Clip Point is the Best Pocket Knife For Deer under $100.
Eventually, I will have to buy one…
3 Hunting Knives I Always Carry
Of course, I don’t rely solely on a pocket knife when Hunting.
I have carried the same 3 knives for nearly 10 years, a Swingblade, that I have recently reviewed in the Best Hunting Knives article, my Gerber Pocket Knife, along with a Fixed Blade Boning Knife, this is a low cost, lightweight, compact combination.
I find these 3 knives almost perfect for deer hunting, they do everything I need, without fuss or fanfare.
8 Best Pocket Knife Brands…
Most of the major knife makers produce good folding knives, many of the best designs for hunting are based on fixed blade knives that have been adapted to become folders they offer quality steel and hold their edge.
Most of the folding knives I have used felt nice in hand with excellent balance which important for skinning large animals like deer.
But “Good Feel” is not enough alone, you still should carry a longer fixed blade for cutting up or boning out, if you want to work fast and efficient.
Bargain Pocket Knives?
In the past, I’ve been disappointed by or outgrown quite a few cheap hunting knives, what seems like a good deal when I first buy it often disappoints, often when I’m in the “middle of nowhere gutting a deer.”
I do expect quite a lot from my knives, [they need to stay sharp as I use them] so now I tend to be more careful about what I buy.
If it is a pocket knife, I’m normally looking at Gerber or Buck, they don’t cost a fortune and both brands make some of the better folding hunting knives available today.
But as they say, rules are made to be broken, I have found several pocket knives that would work fine as a hunting knife.
Modern folding knives are designed to be used hard in all conditions and survive it.
Pocket Knife Design
The blade shape is very important when choosing a knife, you need to match the intended use with the best blade shape, for a skinning knife I prefer a drop point blade – my Gerber pocket knife is a drop point and despite being a small blade it is quick and easy to use – it has proven to be a great knife for skinning deer but a bit small for some jobs…
Pocket Knives & Gut Hooks?
Gut hooks have become popular? or have they? I guess the idea is good, gut hook knives are designed to quickly open up an animal, normally larger animals like deer, without puncturing internal organs, some people love them others hate them. The actual hook is usually close to the tip of the knife – I owned one for a while but never got to like it… the hook gets caught up in places it shouldn’t! – then I discovered the Swingblade from Outdoor Edge – Fanstatic no-nonsense skinning knife, with a separate curved slim blade that acts as the gut hook!
Best Folding Blade Length?
When you are skinning deer or cleaning birds and small game.
You need a 3-6″ blade either clip point, drop point or maybe spear point on a folding knife that is well balanced and comfortable to hold, easy to sharpen, retains its edge, and light to carry.
Choosing the correct blade length is important, but often involves a compromise… don’t buy a knife with a blade that is too long, just because the knife is bench made and looks cool. ( I suspect we’ve all guilty of this at least once?) now I’m a little older, hopefully, wiser.
I find a 4-6″ blade is all I need when skinning deer, even a 3″ blade is fine if most of your knife work is cleaning small game.
Is Blade Steel Important?
Choosing blade steel? when I buy a Buck or Gerber hunting knife I don’t even look at the stainless steel type or number, I trust the knife maker to make the right blade choice – both use 420HC a lot, some hunters view it as too soft but I don’t agree 420HC has worked just fine over the years…
6 Steel Types For Pocket Knives
A list of 6 common steel types, used by well-known brands in good quality pocket knives, most pocket knives are made from stainless steel of some sort, this ensures a durable strong and reliable blade that resists rust under most conditions including exposure to salt spray or seawater.
If I was looking for an investment knife or custom made knife I would be more choosy about steel grades… 154CM, ATS34, and 440C are popular for blade steel often used by custom knife makers they contain greater than 12.5% Chromium, therefore, they are considered to be stainless steel – which is great if you use them often…
Good Pocket Knives Should Have…
When choosing a folding knife for hunting I expect them to have the following features…
- quality stainless steel blade – a good brand will always use a quality knife steel
- the blade should open smoothly and lock open securely
- non-slip comfortable knife handle
- correct blade shape for intended use – drop point is the most practical for skinning and general use
- when open the blade should not wiggle
- hold a good edge and be easy to sharpen
Then the knife gets tested in the field as a back-up knife to make sure it is durable, comfortable to use, holds an edge…