Good length (5.5 in.) allows knife to do multiple jobs. Ships w/black nylon sheath. Retains sharp edge for a long time. Blade includes blood groove and saw tooth back for versatility. Extended finger guard for safety.
Sheath doesn't have high build quality. Handle size may be too thick for some people to hold properly.
Size/weight suits a variety of uses. Ships w/hard plastic sheath. Great knife for processing small game and for precise work. Carbon steel blade is easy to sharpen. Finger guard on handle for safety.
Blade length is a little short at less than 4 in. Blade may collect stains with certain cutting jobs.
Extremely thick blade of 0.177 in. Ships w/sheath and belt clip. Handle and blade are tightly connected for sturdy feel. Basic handle shape fits the hand well. Performs a number of jobs well.
Blade length is only 3.34 in. Knife fits loosely in included sheath. Blade needs to be sharpened often.
Compact skeletal frame w/indention for finger. Ceramic coating on blade prevents corrosion. Includes sheath for carrying in a vertical or horizontal position on a belt. Works well for processing small game.
Blade tends to dull fairly quickly. Handle coating doesn't last very long. Knife is too light for some people.
Set includes a 6.5-in. gut hook knife and 7-in. straight-edge skinning knife. Dual carry sheath for both knives. Camo-colored green handles have non-slip texture. Extremely good price for two knives.
Knives may cut through the sheath when in storage. Not the most durable knives.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
A good hunting knife is indispensable, and there are hundreds to choose from. That's great because it means there is a perfect tool for every outdoor pursuit.
However, all those choices can make things confusing. That's where BestReviews comes in!
We run lab tests and field trials. We consult experts and evaluate owner feedback. Independent advice from BestReviews is invaluable – we never take free samples from manufacturers, so you know our findings are unbiased and honest.
The five hunting knives shortlisted are those we recommend. Each offers best-in-class performance and value, with something for every user.
The following shopping guide looks at the elements we considered.
There are many edge tools, but we're focusing specifically on finding the best knives for hunters. Some are specific to certain tasks. Others can be used for many purposes. When choosing, look at three key areas:
Manufacturers of cheap hunting knives often tout "carbon steel" as a benefit, but all steel is made of iron and carbon, so the term doesn't mean much. "High-carbon steel" is an equally vague description unless a specific number is included. There are too many variations in steel for us to detail them all, but the following are the most common in hunting knives.
Steel labeled 420HC (high carbon) and 440 are types of stainless steel often found in good-quality hunting knives.
Steel labeled 7CR17MOV is a variation of 440 that includes vanadium for additional hardness.
High-end hunting knives use S30V and 154CM steel. These are very hard, so they retain their edge well, but these knives can be difficult to sharpen. Technically, both of these types of steel are more brittle, but that's seldom a problem in the field. Hunting knives made with these types of steel are more expensive.
It's vital to have a guard between the knife blade and handle to keep your hand from accidentally sliding down the blade. A secure grip is particularly important on a large hunting knife.
While blade length is largely a question of personal preference, there are some specific points to consider.
A short knife (three to five inches) is easy to carry and offers more finesse if you mostly hunt small game. It isn’t as useful as a general-purpose tool.
A medium knife (five to eight inches) is a good choice for the occasional hunter, but those who are more committed to the sport might want to buy two knives, so you have the right tool for each job.
A long knife (eight inches and longer) gives you power and leverage, useful if you're doing more with your hunting knife than just preparing game. Of course, the longer the knife, the more awkward it is to carry.
A knife sheath is vital for protecting you and your gear. Look for a sheath with a belt loop, lanyard, or both.
At first glance, there seems to be an endless variety, but blade styles can be narrowed down to just three.
Drop Point: The back of the blade curves down toward the sharp end. These blades have a thick spine, making them rigid and ideal for heavy work.
Clip Point: The blade tilts up at the end. This classic Bowie knife design gives a useful point for piercing and offers more precision. The blade isn’t quite as strong as a drop point, but the clip point knife is the most versatile.
Skinning/Trailing Point: These blades are narrower than the others, with a pronounced upward curve at the end. It's a specialist tool. The blade is unsuitable for general-purpose game processing or campsite work.
You might also want to consider these two blade features.
Serrated Edge: This runs along part of the cutting edge or spine. It’s useful for cutting bone.
Gut Hook: This sharpened hook is cut into the back of the blade, near the tip. It’s used for slicing skin. Some hunters like it; others get by just fine without it.
Q. Should I choose a hunting knife with a fixed or folding blade?
A. We recommend a hunting knife with a fixed blade. It’s more rigid and easier to clean, and it doesn't have small parts that can fail. A folding general-purpose knife is versatile, but it isn’t what you need to cut brush or process game.
Q. Knife blades can be shiny or matt. Is one better than the other?
A. Blade finish is largely cosmetic, though it can help prevent rust. The type of steel is important, not the color.
Q. How do I keep my hunting knife sharp?
A. Cleaning it after use and keeping it sheathed will prolong the edge. When the knife starts to dull, use a manual stone, not a powered grinder. The latter generates too much heat and can damage the blade. There are a number of good videos online that demonstrate proper sharpening technique. Practice and patience are key.
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