It’s safe to say that everyone knows a hunting knife is used to prepare game to be used as food, or to more easily haul to the butcher’s to be dressed out. But, how do you choose the right hunting knife – especially if you’re gift buying and you yourself are not a hunter? From experience, I can tell you that most of us buy several hunting knives before finding the one that best suits us and that’s why we’ve created the following guide – to help you hone in on the right hunting knife the first time.
When choosing a good hunting knife, you usually have one of three options.
- General All Purpose Knife - Used for cleaning game and can also be used as a hatchet, machete, can opener, hammer, etc… excluding the need to carry many individual knives dramatically lightening the load in the field. Usually these knives will be a good fixed blade hunting knife like a bowie or survival knife. This is the best knife to buy as a gift unless you know the recipient needs a specific knife type.
- Game Cleaning Set – Usually geared for either small or large game and comes in an organized handy carrying case. Includes everything you should need. These sets are excellent for hunters that clean and dress their own game.
- Specific Knife Type – Suited for a particular task and usually meant to “complete” an existing game cleaning set. Some of the different knives that should be considered are:
- Caping Knife
- Skinning Knife
- Fillet Knife
- Butcher Knife
- Bone Saw
- Game Shears
- Cutting Board
- Rib Spreader
In addition to the above options, you’ll want to pay special attention to the following:
- Fixed or Folding Knife – If you’re not sure, go with a fixed blade. Generally speaking, they are stronger and usually allow for more control and confidence while cutting. If your task involves heavy cutting or sawing, you don’t want the knife to collapse on your fingers while you are cutting a deer. This is usually a valid concern with lower-end knives.
- Natural or Synthetic Handle Material – I find that traditional folks lean towards stag or bone handles. Keep in mind that with a natural material you’ll usually get some hair-line cracks in the material. This is not considered a defect as it is a natural material. If the hunter is more concerned with handling the knife with wet hands, they’ll get a rubber or synthetic material which will improve grip in a wet hand.
Here’s a few tried and true hunting knives we recommend:
Special Black Phenolic
Folding Hunter Grain
Hunter Genuine Stag Carbon