The 5 Best Carbon Steel Hunting Knives, Reviewed

June 10, 2021

Hunting knives have a big catch: if they're not helping you dress meat in the field efficiently, they might as well stay in your kitchen cupboard. The best hunting knife should still have plenty of other features that make it essential for survival out in the wild or for all-around use.

Carbon steel hunting knives should be sharp right and carry an edge for long-lasting use. For convenience, easy sharpening is a great additional feature. It should also fit well in your hand and not cause blisters during continuous handling, and the blade should be strong enough to cut through bone and cartilage.

Even if we narrow down the selection from folding to fixed blades, there remains an incredible plethora of choices, many of them inexpensive despite the excellent quality. To guarantee that you'll get the most bang for your buck (you’ll see what we did here later), we have gathered a list of the best hunting knives out there for the great, wild outdoors.

Before we get down to business, let's get one bugging question out of the way.

Why the Fuss About Carbon Steel Hunting Knives?

Also known as tool steel, carbon steel is much less prone to corrosion than stainless steel, and it can have a higher hardness (63–65 Hardness Rockwell C) without sacrificing overall strength. It has better impact absorption, wear tolerance, and edge retention than stainless steel.

O1, A2, and D2 are the formularies you'll commonly find among carbon steel blades nowadays. Carbon steel is an alloy of carbon, vanadium, chromium, and manganese, to name a few of its metallic components. It is more costly than stainless steel, but it’s the best steel for a hunting knife, producing blades with exceptional features, both in function and in weight.

Get Yourself the Best Hunting Knife

Without further ado, here’s our analysis on the best deer knife. Hopefully, you'll enjoy it and leave with your mind made up!

KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade

The Ka-Bar brand has inextricable links to the US military, producing the legendary US Marine Corps war knife. The Ka-Bar BK2, also known as the “Campanion,” is genuinely a fantastic companion for when the going gets tough in the field.

The scales that cover the entire tang are tough rounds of glass-reinforced nylon. The blade spans 5 1/4 inches in length and an impressive ¼-inch width, weighing 1 pound. Some people may be uncomfortable with this heft. It may not be the perfect steel to carry on a 1-month expedition if you want to keep it as light as possible.

It has a 20-degree flat grind that makes it pretty flexible—excellent for separating joints on big game, okay for woodworking (a slightly lower angle is preferable for serious woodwork), and overall a decent all-around blade.

You can work with stone using this drop point because of the sufficient depth of its choil. The blade is 1095 Cro-Van steel, which, though considered carbon steel, incorporates a little chromium and vanadium to assist with corrosion resistance while making the edge much “toothier.”


  • Ethan Becker, the founder of Becker Knife, is responsible for the construction of this knife.
  • It serves heavy-duty work well, and it is easy to keep.
  • The razor-sharp blade has an aluminum guard.
  • Its black blade can draw your eyes.


  • Requires frequent sharpening

ESEE Plain Edge with Kydex Sheath

The ESEE plain edge with Kydex sheath is a candidate for the best deer hunting knife and comes from a well-known company. Whether it's for hiking, camping, or hunting, its 5.25-inch, 1095 carbon steel drop-point blade won't disappoint. Also, the knife's toughness has garnered the admiration of many Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape instructors in the military.

This knife is easy to sharpen. You won't even have to think twice about what environment you'll use it in since its powder coating adds an extra boost to its corrosion resistance.

When it comes to the handle, it sports a canvas Micarta handle that is very convenient and ergonomic to the touch due to its non-slip design. It keeps you completely safe in contrast to other knife handles made of plastic, minimizing the chances of slippage when you're working with slippery substances like blood or grease.

You'll also appreciate the thumb jimping on the blade's spine, giving you more control over the knife when making precise cuts. The knife's handle is full of extras, with a glass breaker pommel in case you get trapped in a car or any glass enclosure. It also has a bow drill divot so that you can start a fire anywhere, anytime.

Note that the knife isn't 100-percent protected from corrosion if not appropriately maintained. It is your duty as a pro hunter to keep your knives lubricated, cleaned, and honed. You can use a dry film rust inhibitor on the blade for longer-lasting resistance.

The ESEE brand offers a no-questions-asked warranty on all their 1095 carbon steel products. No receipt? No problem (except for rust or normal wear and tear!).


  • It is ideal for use in various environments.
  • The blade is visually appealing.
  • To ensure protection, ESEE supplies a protective sheath.
  • The comfortable Micarta handle has a good grip.


  • Steep cost

Buck Knives 119 Special Fixed Blade Knife

With a blade measuring 6 inches, Buck's 0119 is yet another limited-edition hunting knife, this time commemorating the 0119 model’s 75th anniversary. On the handle of each knife is a commemorative anniversary medallion.

The full-tang, clip-point blade is 420 high-carbon steel, which is exceptionally corrosion-resistant and durable. You can do all sorts of detail work with the narrow blade.

Overall, it's a very well-balanced instrument, with a phenolic resin grip that allows you to keep a tight yet comfortable grip under most situations. It also weighs a remarkably light 7.5 ounces, leaving many bushcraft enthusiasts in awe of the brand.

While it's no pocket knife, it comes with a protective leather sheath with a snap fastener. The belt loop holds the knife around your hip in a safe, secure, and convenient manner.

Buck also brings out all the big guns with their Forever Warranty, a lifetime warranty on their products. Talk about confidence!


  • The blade is 420HC steel, which is ideal for hard labor.
  • The handles are visually appealing.
  • The kit includes leather sheaths for protection.
  • The blades are corrosion- and rust-resistant.


  • The cost is very high.
  • May be heavy for some

Ontario Fixed Blade Hunting Knife

The Ontario brand is a staple among budgeteers and knife savants. People love this 7-inch hunting knife for its origin and quality consistency. For added aesthetic and visuals, the blade sports Damascus-like patterns.

This hunting knife won't fail against wood or bamboo. The secret sauce is its 1095 carbon steel, making it easy for you to sharpen the knife. However, you can only do that with sharpening stones.

This knife consists of a fixed blade and a wooden handle held together by two brass screws. Since it does not come with a safety sheath, you need to purchase one separately. Aside from that, you can use knife oil after each use to ensure that it works well and remains rust-resistant longer.


  • Heat-treated 1095 carbon steel offers excellent durability and easy sharpening.
  • Damascus patterns are an impeccable aesthetic choice.
  • A brass safety cover secures the wooden handle.


  • No enclosed defensive sheath

TOPS Silent Hero

TOPS specializes in military knives, and the Silent Hero not only fits the bill, but it is also a beneficial outdoor instrument. The saber of this 5 ⅝-inch-long, 3/16-inch-thick blade is ground from 1095 high-carbon steel.

Though some users hate the comparatively thin “Rocky Mountain Style” handle scales, the majority of users find them well-suited to the knife's overall balance and use. It's a classic big boy knife, but one that can perform tasks in hunting and bushcraft in addition to Rambo missions.

You can perform small hunting tasks with the blade’s deep choil. It also comes with a finger guard with a lashing cord. The drop point’s strategic position gives you great control, while the jimped ramp aids in precision. Yes, the thin handle will certainly trigger hot spots after extended heavy use, but it has a firm grip that takes advantage of the blade's flexibility.

The extensive features, consistency in architecture and craftsmanship, and excellent appearance are what landed it on this list, but there is one more thing to mention. The head of the Silent Heroes Foundation's Special Interdictions team crafted the knife, and a portion of the proceeds will fund their critical and sometimes risky work on wildlife protection in Africa.


  • Impressive camp knife look
  • Full tang entails more strength.
  • Quality handle material
  • Choils make the handling more precise.


  • The blade is prone to rust.


The hunting knife is a remnant of the ancient days when catching prey was the sole means of survival for a man's family. Back then, people had to think of ingenious ways to fend for themselves in the harsh wilderness. Nowadays, although much has changed with the type of materials used, the ergonomic features like grip, jimping, and the classic shape of the hunting knife have remained essentially unchanged.

While it would be fancy to declare the number 1 best hunting knife set in this list, we're confident that you've garnered enough information about our top choices for hunting knives to make the best decision for yourself. Happy hunting!

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