A lot goes into finding high-quality hunting knives—from knowing where to look for them, what qualities they should possess, to how you properly maintain them. With proper knowledge and understanding of which outdoor knife is the best fit for your needs, choosing will be much easier. This article will guide you throughout the process.
Hunting is a fun hobby. Some people are professional hunters, while others are simply huge fans of the sport. It’s easy to love hunting because of the adrenaline rush it brings—this is what makes enthusiasts get into it themselves. But for starters, it can be hard to buy the sharpest hunting knife that fits your budget and needs. By the end of this article, you will know how to choose a high-quality hunting knife for your hunting endeavors!
What Is a Hunting Knife?
A hunting knife is a knife designed and adapted for hunting and dressing wild game. It can take on multiple functions, but most are made with a specific one in mind. Therefore, it is important to know what you need it for, whether you are looking for a camping knife, deer hunting knife, or fishing knife.
A typical hunting knife has a blade sharpened on one or both sides and sometimes serrated with an acute point to allow easy skinning of the animal. Additionally, each hunting knife varies in shape, size, and purpose.
The handle is made of wood or plastic that is attached to the tang with rivets or pins. Today, most good hunting knives do not have metal bolsters for two reasons: weight reduction and preventing cuts when dressing game. Additionally, most knives feature a full tang which means they extend all the way to the end of the handle. Finally, many have points on both ends of each blade for easy sharpening.
Now that we have an overview, let’s get on with the several features you must consider before buying a hunting or tactical knife!
Things You Should Know First Before Buying a Hunting Knife
If you want a hunting knife worth the investment, you’ll need to consider several factors when shopping for one. The blade material is certainly one, but there are other factors like handle type and grip surfaces, thickness, style of the blade (drop or clip point), and more! If you know what to look for, it shouldn't be hard to find the best hunting knife that fits your budget. Here’s a buyer’s guide:
Consider your budget.
One thing you should determine, first and foremost, is your budget for a hunting knife. Best-made knives vary in price, and it’s a tough decision to make when buying an outdoor knife. If you’re going to be hunting with it, you want a knife that will last a lifetime.
Nowadays, a quality hunting knife can cost anywhere from $20 to $100 or more. When deciding on the size of the knife you want to buy, think about how often you'll be using it and how much use is too much use. The longer the blade, the more money you need to pay for it. The thicker the blade, the more likely it’s going to be a high-quality hunting knife.
Know what knife type you want best.
One of the most important factors you must always bear in mind when buying a hunting knife is the blade type. Any hunting knife comes with different types of blades, each differing in its own characteristics and uses. Whether hunting for small or large games, carrying around a survival knife can put you to an advantage. The three main types of hunting knives are fixed blade knife, folding knife blade, and half-fixed blade.
- Fixed Blade Knife: Most serious hunters prefer fixed blade knives for their reliability and safety. A fixed blade knife is one whose blade doesn’t fold onto the handle (similar to a pocket knife but much larger).
The blade will typically be between 4 and 10 long". However, some blades can be as short as 2" or as long as 15. Most hunters don’t use blades longer than 8" for hunting purposes.
A fixed blade knife is generally stronger than folding blades, making them safer for hunting. Additionally, they’re also easier to keep clean and maintain than their folding counterparts. The only real disadvantage of fixed blade knives is their size and weight. They can be very large and often take up a lot of space in your pack or on the belt.
- Folding Knife Blade: A folding knife blade tends to be smaller than fixed blades and less expensive. However, folding knives have more moving parts, making them more likely to break under stress from repeated use. The blade only folds onto the handle when the knife is closed, which prevents it from accidentally stabbing you while in your pack or on your belt. Finally, a folding knife blade can also be a replaceable blade knife. One of the main disadvantages of folding blades is that they can be difficult to clean and maintain.
- Half-Fixed Blade: A half-fixed blade is a cross between a fixed blade and a folding blade, allowing you the benefits of both. Half-fixed blades have a non-folding "fixed" part of the knife attached to the handle and a folding portion with the blade. The folding portion is used for skinning and other detailed tasks, while the "fixed" part is used for light chopping and batoning.
Ensure slip-free, comfortable grip.
Another major factor in choosing a hunting knife is handle material. Using a hunting knife that best suits your hands makes skinning, cutting, and slicing easier and with a more comfortable grip.
Some of the most common materials are:
- Wood: Wood handles are the most traditional choice for hunting knives and are usually made of hickory or walnut. Wood is tough, lightweight, and durable, making it a very good choice for knife handles. That said, there are still several disadvantages to wood; wooden handles can be slippery when wet, and can absorb blood and moisture, making the knife extremely difficult to clean (if not impossible). Finally, they are more difficult to hold onto with gloved hands than most other materials.
- Stainless Steel: Stainless steel handles are usually made of either 440 or 420 stainless steel, depending on the manufacturer. These materials will offer excellent grip even in wet conditions and do not absorb blood as much as wood. They can be difficult to hold onto in cold conditions with gloves on but typically offer a better grip than wood.
- G-10: G-10 refers to a type of laminate used in knife handles. It is made from fiberglass and resin that is compressed together under very high pressures and temperatures to produce a material that offers superior strength and durability. They are essentially impervious to water, making them perfect for hunters that frequent wet environments. G-10 handles provide grip even when wet or gloved, which cannot be said of stainless steel, wood, nor bone handles.
- Bone: Bone is a fairly common handle material for a hunting knife because it’s tough, durable, and often easy to find. Bone handles are usually made from the bones of large animals like buffalo or deer but can be found on knives made with other animal bones (like snakeskin bone knives). The bone material is lightweight and offers excellent grip even in wet conditions.
Choose the Right Handle Weight and Length.
The size of the hunting knife is another consideration that can be difficult to predict until you actually get your hands on it for the first time. That is because knives of all sizes will fit into your hand differently depending on their weight distribution. Even though there aren't any rules for length and weight, hunting experts often recommend full-tang knives because they will be more durable than other knife styles.
Hunting knives are one of the most important tools in a hunter's arsenal, so it's crucial to find one that fits your needs. Knowing the different factors involved in finding a good quality hunting knife will help you get started on finding your next knife so you can finally get out on the hunt!
Some Additional Tips for First-Time Hunting Knife Buyers
If you are shopping for a hunting knife and can't decide what blade type will suit your needs, consult the following: Hunters who skin their game usually prefer knives with very sharp blades, such as clip-point or drop-point blades. Hunters who dress out their prey do better with gut hook styles of blades. On the other hand, a skinner is more likely to skin and gristle easier with a straight-edged blade.
Look into full-tang blades for hunters needing an all-purpose hunting knife that can pretty much do everything they need it to do. Full tang blades run all the way through the handle and are secured with rivets or epoxy.
Get Yourself a High-Quality Hunting Knife!
A high-quality hunting knife is a vital tool for hunters. Whether you're going on your first hunt or planning to explore the wild as a long-term hobby, you must know what to look for when shopping around for the best hunting companion. It can be difficult and time-consuming if this is your first time searching for a quality blade, but we hope you find this informative guide helpful!