A good hunting knife will last for many years. Hunting knives are used for dressing game, camp work, utility work, and about everything else that is needed when in the woods. For this reason, a high quality hunting knife is needed. (You don’t want to feel the agony of having a bad hunting knife, it just sucks). This KnifeUp article will discuss what you should look for in the best hunting knife, the three top selling hunting knives, and which one is right for you.
Requirements of The Best Hunting Knife
Your first task before purchasing a hunting knife is to determine what task it will fulfill. An avid camper, who doesn’t actually hunt or skin wild animals, will have different needs in his hunting knife than an avid hunter. Keep in mind that knives that are marketed as being multi-purpose seldom perform many of those functions very well.
Most of the functions needed in a hunting and/or camping knife will make it good for field-dressing deer or other game. But, that same knife will be used to cut rope, cut branches for building shelters and camp fires, and carving food. If you need a screwdriver or pair of pliers, you would be better off purchasing a multi-purpose tool.
In some cases, you may need a selection of knives. If you will be skinning large game, such as deer, elk, and bear, a fixed blade knife is the most desirable. It will have two cutting edges – one side sharp for skinning and one with a saw tooth for cutting through bone and firewood. For small game, such as quail and rabbits, a pocket knife with a hook will be more useful.
If you select a bigger-than-life knife, you’ll find that it isn’t as useful as you had hoped for skinning game. These may be good in setting up camp, in that you can chop wood and clear camping spaces more easily. Some hunting knives allow you to actually dig with them without fear of the blade breaking lose from the handle. However, if you need a knife that big, you’ll probably use a multi-purpose tool.
Whichever sized knives you select, make sure you can actually hold the knife well enough to control it. And remember, you’ll have to carry it on your hunting and camping trips, so it should be easy to carry.
The kind of steel used in constructing the blade determines the quality of the knife, itself. Soft steel won’t keep its edge, nor will a knife that has an incorrect angle of bevel. The steel also needs to resist corrosion, and be durable and hard, yet flexible. Cheaper blades become brittle with temperature fluctuations, snapping off when you need them the most – in freezing weather when you’re building a shelter.
Here are some examples of what to look for in quality steel:
- Vanadium steel. This is rust resistant and very tough steel. While this kind of blade is hard to sharpen, it will hold an edge practically forever. Look for S30V designation on these knives.
- Carbon steel. Carbon blades last a long time, with a hard edge that will stay sharp. However, carbon steel is a little more brittle than vanadium. You are better off selecting smaller knives when choosing carbon steel. This knife will have 154CM designation.
- Stainless steel. This is pretty much the same as the carbon steel blade, except that it is also corrosion resistant. It will also keep its edge longer. Look for VG-10 designation.
- Medium-carbon stainless steel. As you would expect, this knife will be very corrosion resistant, but the blade will be more brittle. The great thing about this knife is that it is easy to sharpen. The stability of the knife edge, however, is not as good as the others. These are designated as 420HC blades.
The handle of the knife is equally important. The first feature to look for is a finger stop. This will keep your finger or entire hand from sliding down to the blade of the knife.
While natural material handles may be attractive, they may not be as durable as you need them to be. If your knife will see heavy use, consider synthetic materials, such as ABS OR Kraton. These will withstand extended periods of moisture, leverage situations, and offer light-weight grip.
You should always make sure that the knife will fit your hand and allow you to control it. A handle that is too large will make your hand and arm tired, which will keep you from using it for very long.
Top 3 Best Hunting Knives
Kershaw Blur Knife
The Kershaw Blur Knife is crafted of S30V stainless steel. This folding knife is equipped with Kershaw’s 1-handed SpeedSafe opening system that works with either hand. While not a switchblade, the knife does open easily when pushed open by either thumb.
The handle is Trac-Tec construction. This enables the user to grip the knife easily, even in wet conditions. The synthetic handle material is durable even in the elements, and is sized so that your hand doesn’t tire from extended use. The blade, when folded, is held firmly in its place with a locking liner. This knife has a blade length of 3 and 3/8 inches, is 7 and 7/8 inch long when opened, and weighs only 4 ounces.
Kershaw knives are made by Ken Onion, who is a much courted designer in the industry. His custom-made knives are in some of the most well-known knife collections in the world. Ken invented the SpeedSafe opening system. The knife has a lifetime warranty.
This fine model is available with either a standard blade, or with a partially serrated blade. The Ken Onion Blur series of knives have built a reputation for being a strong, corrosion resistant knife that is easy to use even in wet, slippery conditions. The Trac-Tech inserts in the handle are favorably reviewed by customers who use the knife for skinning game and setting up camp in rainy weather, with high praises for the secure feel and safe operation. Consumers also like the strength of the knife, and comment on the solidity of the blade when the knife is open. The S30V blade is very sharp, and customers say they have used the blade for everything from skinning game to cutting para-cord without having to sharpen the edge. Read more.
Buck 193 Alpha Hunter
The Buck 193 Alpha Hunter is a fixed blade knife with a guthook. Made with 12C27 Sandvik steel, this knife will hold its edge even when cutting through bone or rope. The tang runs the full length of this drop point blade. The handle is authentic rosewood for beauty, that has been impregnated with resin to make it durable. The tang is exposed all the way around the handle.
The blade is 3 and ¾ inches long, and overall length is 8 and ½ inches. The knife weighs 7.2 oz, and has a fitted brown leather sheath. It also has a lifetime warranty. The knife handles flawlessly, even in wet and slippery conditions. Reviewers of this knife say that it is sharp and durable, and easy to use when skinning game such as deer and hog. Read more.
Kershaw Cryo Speed Safe Folding Knife
The Kershaw Cryo Speed Safe folding knife features a 2 and ¾ inch long steel blade. It has a titanium carbo-nitrade coating on both the blade and the handle. It uses the Speed safe opening system.
The designer of this knife is Rick Hinderer. The SpeedSafe makes this knife easy to access in hunting conditions, when you may be able to reach your knife with only one hand. The knife has a warranty.
The blade is black, with a non-serrated edge. Overall length of the knife, when opened, is almost 6 and ½ inches. Consumers who use this knife say that when it is opened, there is no blade play at all, and that it is locked in position with about 40% of the blade against the lock. It’s a very strong blade for the price. I uses 8Cr13MOV steel, which makes it easy to sharpen. While not heavily textured, the handle has a grip that keeps it from twisting in your hand. Read more.
Best Hunting Knife for You
As a final recommendation, you just can’t go wrong with the Kershaw Blur Knife. It will serve you for camping, and in hunting both small and large game. The durable structure allows you to leverage the knife without fear of breaking it, and the grip is built to fit your hand. Finally, don’t overlook the styling. This is simply a great looking knife.