Best Hunting Knife 2017
A good hunting knife is hard to find, as any avid hunter knows. But once you find the one you want, it will be with you for years. And if you’re lucky to fall in love with a Buck, it will be with you forever with their lifetime warranty. Although there is not a perfect knife to be had, there are several that do the job well. There is no one size fits all, and some choose to bring multiple types with them. There is still a great divide between users about the best type, which will be discussed later.
The general features in hunting knives are all useful, and a lot less gimmicky than other hunting components. There is usually no wasted craftsmanship, and everything has a general function. As per usual when choosing the best, the user and their intentions are the best decider. Below is a list of what can be considered the best hunting knives on the market.
Compare: The 10 Top Rated Hunting Knives
|1||ESEE Knives LSP Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife||ESEE Knives||$$$||4.9|
|2||Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife||Ka-Bar||$$||4.8|
|3||Puma Skinner Stag Handle Blade Hunting Knife||Puma SGB||$$||4.7|
|4||Buck Knives 110 Famous Folding Hunter Knife||Buck Knives||$||4.5|
|5||Fallkniven No 4 Frej Fixed Blade Knife||Fallkniven||$$$$||4.6|
|6||Buck Knives S30V Steel Blade 0277RWS1 Folding Alpha Hunter Knife||Buck Knives||$$||4.7|
|7||Benchmade Hunt 15016 Hidden Canyon Hunter Fixed Blade Knife||Benchmade||$$||4.6|
|8||Cold Steel Voyager XL Vaquero Plain Edge Knife||Cold Steel||$$||4.5|
|9||Buck Knives 337 Paradigm Pro Folding Knife||Buck Knives||$$||4.6|
|10||Benchmade Knife 585 Mini Barrage Plain Satin Blade||Benchmade||$$$||4.6|
Our Hunting Knife Reviews
Well known and loved, the Buck Knives 110BRS Folding Hunter Knife is capable and just about the epitome of well-known in the hunting knife marketplace. It has a 3 ¾ inch 420HC steel chip blade, with a closed length of 4 7/8 inches. It is also one of the lightest on the list coming in easily at under a half pound, weighting only 7.2 ounces. The lifetime warranty from Buck is a standard and is well used, without any hassle.
The handle is Dymonwood wood-grain with polished bolsters, a competent and natural wood grain. A high quality leather sheath is included for extended use, even though there is a working locking mechanism on the blade itself. Buck’s 4- ever unconditional warranty is pretty foolproof and one of the easier warranties to take advantage of should something go awry. The small design should be ignored, as the Buck Knives 110BRS Folding Hunter Knife is capable for normal chores as well as some heavy duty tasks.
The original version of this model was made back in 1962, a good year for the company and for knives in general. As this is a remake, and anniversary stock, there is an emblem on the knife handle that reads “1964 50 years” to celebrate the company’s history. Out of the package it comes incredibly sharp, and even maintaining the Buck Knives 110BRS Folding Hunter Knife is less of a chore and more of a joy because of the craftsmanship. Old school users of the original will not be disappointed with the remake, and new users will welcome anything tried and true from Buck.
As of this posting this model like its predecessor has been discontinued, although the lifetime conditional warranty is still intact. It’s not hard to find for the savvy searcher, and is still incredibly sought after even though it is an expired product. This is only a testament to how well made the Buck Knives 110BRS Folding Hunter Knife is compared to other models, and that its value even to this day has stayed intact. Word in the marketplace is that if you get ahold of one of these, classic or remade, to hold onto them.
If looks were the only thing that mattered, the Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife would be at the top of the list. The 5.5 inch blade is made of 1095 cro-van steel, while the complete length with handle and blade tops out at 10.5 inches. The blade itself is drop point with a 20-degree edge angle and a highly reviewed Grivory material handle that has changed some minds in the industry. Although not a foolproof warranty, it does come with a limited lifetime warranty.
The sheath is unfortunately a glass-filled nylon, which does a decent job, even though a higher grade sheath would have been preferred. It’s on the heavier side at 1.5 pounds, but it doesn’t hurt anything. The thickness of the blade is surprising, and bodes well for long-term use and hunting. The lanyard holes are a nice addition, and well placed with the overall package.
A limited lifetime warranty might scare away some potential buyers, but the ruggedness of the Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife shouldn’t cause any issues. With the blade being ¼ of an inch thick combined with the almost 2 lbs. weight of the knife, it looks to hold up well for years. It comes razor sharp out of the package and ready to filet or skin. This hunting knife has the looks, reliability, and stature to place well high on the list, and is a fine choice in any hunter’s collection.
There are a lot of unique knives for hunting, but one of the more unique ones is the ESEE Knives LSP Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife with Canvas Micarta Handles that goes out of the way to not only be different, but different and innovative. The entire length of this fixed blade is 10 inches, with the 1095 High Carbon Steel blade reaching at 4.75 inches. The handle material is high end and composed of Micarta, while the sheath (for better or worse) is made up of the controversial Kydex. Controversial of course, depending on which hunter you speak to.
Everything about this knife and the packaging screams quality, right down to the skeletonized 1095 construction with black powder finish. It is a sleek and clean looking blade, with jimping on the lower spine and index choil on the front. With the included washer piece the gray Micarta scales can be removed, which is a nice touch. The aforementioned kydex sheath is multi-featured and has a sheath tensioner, paracord lanyard with lock and ambidextrous clip plate.
Because of the included features with the Kydex sheath, the ESEE Knives LSP Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife with Canvas Micarta Handles manages to escape the wrath of many that clamor for a traditional leather case. The edge will maintain sharpness over a long period of time because of the Carbon material, and is just as easy to case for as traditional blades. There isn’t a single inch of this package that isn’t overpriced or underdone.
The ESEE Knives LSP Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife with Canvas Micarta Handles is a top tier hunting knife with a respected following. The warranty is on par with Bucks and even goes the distance of being transferrable. The entire knife is durable, and the blade itself is thick and ready for work. This knife from ESEE comes highly recommended, and is one of the best on the list.
Our Top Rated Hunting Knives
What Is A Hunting Knife?
A hunting knife is a knife used during hunting for preparing the game to be used as food: skinning the animal and cutting up the meat. It is different from the hunting dagger which was traditionally used to kill wild game.
Some hunting knives are adapted for other uses in the wild; such as a camp knife, which hunters may use asmachetes or hatchets when those specific tools are not available. In this case, their function is similar to a survival knife.
What Are The Advantages Of Owning A Hunting Knife?
Hunting knives are traditionally designed for cutting rather than stabbing, and usually have a single sharpened edge. The blade is slightly curved on most models, and some hunting knives may have a blade that has both a curved portion for skinning, and a straight portion for cutting slices of meat. Some blades incorporate a gut hook. Most hunting knives designed as “skinners” have a rounded point as to not damage the skin as it is being removed.
What Are The Different Types of Hunting Knives?
A good hunting knife must perform flawlessly its main task: skinning the animal and dressing game, i.e. splitting the ribcage and cutting through bone and cartilage. So, the general rule of thumb is that a hunting knife must be pretty strong, for achieving its main goals. These are the different types of hunting knives:
- Fixed-Blade – Fixed-blade versus a folding knife is both personal and practical. If the game you hunt is large and the terrain more rugged, a fixed blade knife is often a better option for its strength and dependability.
- Folding knives – Folding knives have the advantage of being easier to carry and to conceal. They are also considered safer.
As a general rule of thumb, fixed blade knives are the best ones from all points of view except for one (they are not that easy to carry around due to their size):
- they are stronger
- they are cheaper
- they are more reliable
All these benefits derive from the fact that a fixed blade knife has no moving parts, like a folder knife has. Folders are more versatile and easier to carry around.
If you go for a folder knife, don’t get cheap, because cheap folders are not built to last. You should choose a reputable company and pay extra attention (and money eventually) at the locking mechanism of the blade. Yes, you must go for a strong lock-back folder knife, with a thick blade and a grippy handle. Also, a partially serrated blade works best in a folding knife, making it very versatile, especially when cutting through cartilage and tendons.
If you’re a dedicated hunter, a solid fixed blade knife is the name of the game for you, there’s no compromise here. For regular, heavy duty jobs, a folding knife is usually not enough.
Considerations for Choosing the Best Hunting Knife
Keep in mind that a high-quality hunting knife, well maintained, will last you for a life time. All you have to do to keep it in shape is to clean the blade and handle thoroughly after using it and store it in a clean, dry place. You can use a commercial cleaning solution that contains a lubricant/protector in its composition, even if you’re using a stainless steel blade. Stainless steel blades are not immune to rusting after all, just more resistant. Below are a few items you should consider before buying a hunting knife.
Fixed or Folding
Hunting knife blades are either going to be in a fixed stationary position, or they will fold. Old timers usually prefer the fixed blade while newer hunters favor the folding style. One isn’t better than the other, and it strictly comes down to user preference. Durability will always favor the fixed blade, and is common sense as there are less mechanical parts to deal with and break. It’s also easier to clean and maintain, and comes out of the box ready to handle heavy duty tasks, even expected to go through bone without ruining the blade. There is also a cool factor about having a sheath at your side, but there is also a safety factor to be mentioned as well in dangerous situations.
Folding blades are much more versatile in their use and can easily be hidden, taken out quicker than a fixed blade, and are for everyday use. The ability to carry it in the pocket is a bonus in situations where it would be a burden to have a sheath on one side, and the locking mechanisms of all folding blades are now at a quality where safety favors them over fixed blades. But folding blades are also harder to clean, less durable, and many can’t handle the heavy duty tasks of a fixed blade. More than likely a folding blade will be calling in on that warranty sooner than the thicker and more powerful fixed blade.
Stainless steel and carbon steel blade flood the market with hunting knives, and both have a particular crowd that favors one over the other. Now your blade is going to be an essential part of what makes the hunting knife useful, so the blade material is a pretty big thing when considering the purchase. Stainless steel is made up of several components like iron, nickel, carbon, chromium etc. and is very resistant to rust, but lack the razor sharpness of Carbon and is known to stain in some environments. Hunting knives, depending on their use, are not going to be shiny trophies in the long run so the staining may not be a big deal depending on the person.
Carbon steel wins the prize as being the sharpest of the two, and easier to care for and maintain that sharpness. They come out of the box ready to go, and dulling of the blade is not a big issue at all and an easy fix in the long wrong. It also requires the most care, and has questionable long-term performance when compared to a Stainless steel blade. Carbon blades rust and discolor very easily, even if cared for. A good warranty is important when purchasing a Carbon steel hunting knife, as it becomes a game of avoid the corrosion.
The handle is often an overlooked part in the hunting knife, and depending on what the user is looking for, can make a big difference in the way the knife is used. The grip of a handle comes into play and can even destroy a purchase, and in worst case scenarios be dangerous to the hunter. A good handle is firm, feels good in both large and small hands, and has ambidextrous features. Fixed blade hunting knives are incredibly notorious for having comfortable handles, as the heavy use demands a high quality grade
This section obviously applies to fixed blades only, and is another important component. The only accessory that matters with a hunting knife is the sheath, as a bad sheath with a sharp hunting knife can lead to some adventure worthy war stories. A sheath has multiple uses, besides keeping the user from getting cut, it protects the knife itself from damage, allows ease of access, and just looks good wearing it.
A good sheath won’t be clunky, and comes in leather, Kydex, and Nylon, being the worst. The general rule is that if the hunting knife comes with a Nylon sheath, ditch it immediately like a Centerpoint 4×32 scope on an air rifle. There is still a heated debate in preference over the Leather and Kydex sheaths, much like the debate between fixed and folded blade hunting knives.
Leather is the traditional material that has been around for years, not only to sheath hunting knives but other weapons as well. They go as far back as Cowboys, and even further than that in history as the sheath of choice for weapons. The look is classic, and the material if taken well care of lasts for years. Durability is never a cause for concern with a leather sheath, and only comes into play when the leather itself is of a low quality.
Kydex is a new thermoplastic material that has gained considerable respect within the community so much that a lot of manufacturers have shifted to it over leather sheaths. Kydex is an interesting material in that it form fits to the hunting knife, ‘clicking in’ and negates the need for a strap to hold it in place. This makes for a usually smaller sheath with less materials to bugger about, and the Kydex itself is always of the highest quality but lacks the looks and appeal of leather. It also dulls the edge of the hunting knife over time, but the loss is so minimal that it is hard to not look at Kydex as the future.
There is only one multipurpose knife on the list, and that is the Boker Traditional Series Folding Hunter Knife with Jigged Bone Handle. There are more on the market, of varying quality. The idea of putting two types of blade in one knife is a nice innovation, and there are plenty to choose from. The focus is that while it is nice to have multiuse in one knife, overall the quality is better served using two knives with specific functions rather than one knife with dual blades. There is nothing wrong with the Boker or dual bladed hunting knives, but if the purpose is for max quality and usability, a separate two knife system will always be the winner by a wide and long margin.
There are many knives out on the market, with a no b.s. approach to handling the most complicated of hunting tasks without fail. The choices are plentiful for the hunter or even general user, and in the end there is no wrong choice. One of the most amazing thing about hunting knives is that they really are the perfect accessory for a hunter, and have not changed much at all over the years. There are few innovations over the years, which just means that if it isn’t broke don’t fix it.
The introduction of Kydex is a welcome addition, and is used by many professions outside of hunting. Kydex may very well become the future of hunting knives, with the materials not only being used for sheaths but for other components of the hunting knife as well. The downside is minimal, and with a little experimentation a Kydex sheath that doesn’t impact the blade will help a long way into Kydex being the number 1 used sheath, and standard in the industry. Leather is not a bad material, and will forever be around as it is the better looking and most used of the two. But there is definitely a shakeup between the two materials.
Hunting knives are a great accessory for any hunter, and with the many sources online it becomes even easier to make a well informed choice. This list alone will cover more than just the basics of what is needed for the best hunting knife, and will hopefully aid curious users as well. Choose the one that works best for your needs, and remember there are plenty of hunters who have more than one hunting knife in their collection.