Best Folding Hunting Knife
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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 light compact backup knife.
I Have A Bias…
Despite my bias, for fixed blades, over the years I have successfully used several pocket knives from various well-respected brands for skinning small game when I was trapping, as well on occasion, for processing quite large deer, when I only had a folding knife with me at the time, so I can see the value in folding knives for deer hunting I just prefer fixed blades.
Best Folding Knives
A couple of folding knives 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.
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SOG Folding Knife
841 Sprint Pro
Best Folding Knife
Gerber Gator Folding Knife
Buying a folding knife for hunting is a smart move, even the smaller blades are useful as a camp knife or for skinning small game.
I always carry a small Gerber Folder as my backup, it’s great for skinning even larger animals like deer, once the animal is opened up.
Drop Point Gerber
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 everyday 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 buy one…
Outdoor Edge Swingblade
Of course, I don’t recommend you rely solely on a pocket knife when Hunting or just one knife for that matter.
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 knife set, that has proven its worth over the years.
I find these 3 knives close to perfect for deer hunting, they do everything I need, without fuss at a very low price.
8 Best Pocket Knife Brands…
Most of the better knife makers produce a good range of folding knives for hunters, In my opinion, some of the best pocket knives designed for hunting are based on fixed blade knives that have been adapted to become folders, the bonus of this is they offer a quality build and blade steel, that holds an edge.
Top Pocket Knives…
Buck Pocket Knives:
Buck Knives is a 4th generation family-owned company established in 1902.
In most cases, Buck uses 420HC stainless steel in its fixed blades and folding knives.
Buck hardens 420HC to Rc 58 using their own exclusive heat-treat process.
3 folding pocket knives for hunting from Buck Knives – made in the USA
Excellent quality folding knives from a top brand, backed by the Buck Forever Warranty.
Gerber Pocket Knives:
Gerber Knives was established in 1939 in Portland, Oregon, USA, Gerber Gear was acquired by Fiskars Brands in 1987, a Finnish company that now owns Gerber Gear is still making an excellent range of quality pocket knives, to this day…
A selection of 54 Popular Gerber Knives is still proudly made in the U.S… despite the fact a large number of Gerber products are made in China.
These 3 Pocket Knives are made in the USA
Gerber Gear is another excellent folding knife brand you can rely on, backed with a Limited Lifetime Warranty.
Benchmade Pocket Knives:
First established in 1980 in California after trading problems they rebranded as Benchmade Knife Company in 1987.
Benchmade moved from California to Clackamas, Oregon to produce a range of fixed blade and folding knives under the name Benchmade, Inc.
In the past, Benchmade knives were outsourced to China and Taiwan, Though now many of their popular knives are made in the USA. See the U.S made Benchmade pocket knives here… and these 3 knives linked below are clearly marked with made in the U.S
Benchmade Pocket Knives are fully backed with an – Excellent Warranty, though it is limited to the original purchaser.
Outdoor Edge Folding Knives:
Outdoor Edge Knives are designed in Denver Colorado and manufactured in China, Japan and Taiwan. using a variety of stainless steel in their folding hunting knives including AUS-8, 8Cr13MoV, 420J2 and 440A
SOG Pocket Knives:
Spencer Frazer established SOG Specialty Knives in 1986 created to produce a SOG Bowie, this single knife spawned the birth of SOG Specialty Knives & Tools, Inc.
Their fixed blade knives are manufactured in China and Taiwan and multi-tools including the Paratool, PowerLock, and PowerAssist. along with some folding knives and multi-tools are made or at least assembled in the U.S.
CRKT Pocket Knives:
CRKT® (Columbia River Knife and Tool®) was established in Oregon in 1994. CRKT pocket knives are manufactured in Oregon and China using stainless steel from several international suppliers.
Limited Lifetime Warranty for the original owner.
Spyderco Pocket Knives:
Established in 1976 by Sal and Gail Glesser, In 1978, Spyderco settled in Golden, Colorado, In 1981, Spyderco introduced their first folding knife to their product range.
With worldwide distribution, Spyderco’s product manufacturing is now produced in 5 different countries, including their US facility in Golden, CO USA. as well, they produce pocket knives and knife sharpeners in Japan, Taiwan, Italy, and China, using a variety of knife steel.
Kershaw Pocket Knives:
Established in 1974 by Pete Kershaw, Kershaw Knives is now a brand of Kai USA Ltd.
Kai has been one of Japan’s premier blade producers for the past 100 years.
Many of Kershaw’s pocket knives are made in their U.S facility in Tualatin, Oregon, or outsourced to manufacturers in China, ensuring a product range that serves every budget.
All Kershaw Knives are covered by their Limited Lifetime Warranty – limited to the original owner.
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 or specific gutting blade, for certain butchering work such as gutting deer, or removing the “poo tube” from the rear end, along with the heavier cuts as you break down and debone larger animals in the field. Occasionally a longer blade like a 6″ boning knife or similar, is needed.
The correct knife/knives for the job is essential (or as close to it as possible) if you want to work fast and efficient.
Bargain Pocket Knives?
You need to be wary of Cheap Folding Knives as in the past, I’ve been disappointed by, or outgrown quite a few cheap pocket 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.”
Cheap Pocket Knives?
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, but I’m open to other brands, Good quality folding Knives from well-known brands don’t cost a fortune… especially if they outsource the manufacturing to China.
The U.S. Made, Gerber Folding Knives
Outsourcing offers good value for budget pocket knives if you are selective about what knife you buy and realistic about its durability and use it accordingly… EDC but not your main skinning knife?
But I find the U.S. Made Gerber Gear or Buck Knives, are up there with the best folding hunting knives available today and still offer excellent value.
But as they say, rigid rules are made to be broken? I have found several production 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 smaller deer, but it is a bit small for most deer processing jobs…
Pocket Knives & Gut Hooks?
Gut hooks have become popular? I guess the idea is good, gut hook knives are designed to quickly open up an animal either to gut it or skin it, normally larger animals like Deer or Elk, without puncturing internal organs, some people love them others hate them.
Folding Knife With Gut Hook
The actual hook is usually on the back of the knife close to the tip – I owned one for a while but never got to like it… the gut 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 gutting blade that actually works much better than any gut hook I have used n the past!
Best Folding Blade Length?
When you use a pocket knife for skinning deer, caping, cleaning birds, or small game.
You still 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.
4″ Folding Knife
Choosing the best skinning knife with 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?
Best Value Pocket Knife
Choosing blade steel for pocket knives? when I buy a Buck or Gerber folding knife for hunting, 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 or AUS-8, in many popular pocket knives they sell, I know that some hunters view both these knife steels as too soft to hold an edge…
Tested In The Wild
In theory, it may be true, but in practice, I don’t agree, as both 420HC and AUS-8 knife steels have worked just fine for me while hunting deer and trapping in fairly harsh conditions, in remote rugged areas, for the last 40 years or more, for me, that is real product testing! – and Yes, I am that old!
420HC or AUS-8
The softer knife steel that Top Knife Brands use regularly is tough! Harder steel will hold its edge better once you have an edge, but it is more brittle, leaving it more likely to roll an edge, chip, or break the blade completely?
The way most motivated hunters use their knives after a successful hunt, buying tough and reliable, is better than one-off testing, the latest tool steel…
6 Steel Types For Folding 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, sharp, reliable blade, that resists rust under most conditions including exposure to salt spray or seawater.
Custom Pocket Knives
If I was looking for an investment knife or custom made pocket knife for hunting or EDC, I would be a lot more choosy about the steel grade or type…
In General 154CM, ATS34, and 440C are popular as knife 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 in harsh environments…
Good Pocket Knives Should Have…
When I’m choosing a folding knife for hunting I expect them to have the following features…
- quality sharp stainless steel blade – a good brand will always use a quality knife steel.
- the pocket knife should open smoothly preferably one-handed or a flipper, and lock open securely and release easily.
- non-slip comfortable knife handle.
- correct blade shape for intended use – clip point for skinning small game, drop point pocket knives for skinning larger animals and general use.
- when open, the blade should feel secure and not wiggle bout.
- hold a good edge and be easy to sharpen.
Then the knife gets tested in the field as a backup knife to make sure it is durable, comfortable to use, holds an edge…