A quality hunting knife is a must-have tool for both novice and experienced hunters. While most knives can be used in the field, some are designed with specific features that make them better suited to certain types of game or terrain. Most serious hunters will have at least one or two different hunting knives outfitted with a variety of special features like serrations along the blade, finger rings on the handle, and more. These features help ensure that the hunter has the best possible grip while wielding the knife and allows him to use it effectively without dropping it.
The best hunting knife is made from high-carbon steel that can withstand continuous use, while many models also feature a nonstick coating to reduce friction between the blade and meat. The handle may be wrapped in nylon or polyester fabric to provide additional comfort while holding the knife, while some models feature a built-in sheath that keeps the blade sharp during long periods.
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Hunting Knife
When it comes to choosing a new hunting knife, there are many factors to consider. The following section looks at some of the most important features and functions when shopping for this unique tool.
Like many tools, knives come in various materials. These include steel, carbon steel, stainless steel, high-carbon stainless steel, titanium nitride (a form of Titanium), and resin.
- Although steel blades are durable, if they are not properly maintained, they can readily rust. They also need to be regularly sharpened using the proper equipment. To prevent them from rusting between uses, keep them dry while you are working.
- Carbon steel blades are sharper than steel blades but more prone to damage. If these knives get wet during hunting or fishing, they could rust before you’ve had a chance to use them.
- Stainless steel blades are easier on both your pocketbook and the environment than either steel or carbon steel blades. However, these blades tend to wear out faster than other types and need frequent maintenance with a good quality sharpener.
- High-carbon stainless steel has a higher carbon content than traditional stainless steel. This makes it harder and stronger. It’s often used in combat knives because its strength allows you to sharpen your blade without having to buy another one.
- Titanium nitride is a durable material that’s resistant to corrosion. It’s especially popular in fishing knives since it wont stain or harm aquatic lifeforms. However, these blades need regular cleaning and care to prevent buildup.
Comfort is key when using any kind of knife, whether it be a manual meat cleaver or a high-tech robotic arm. An ergonomic handle reduces hand fatigue and improves grip security. Also, a well-designed knife should fit snugly in your hand without too many pressure points or gaps where dirt or water could accumulate.
For example, if you have large hands, you might want to look for a larger knife so that it fits comfortably in your palm rather than just your fingers. Likewise, someone with smaller hands would do better with a smaller knife.
Weight and Balance
Manual meat grinders and hatchets were made for swinging, whereas modern weapons like guns and machetes are meant to be wielded with two hands. For that reason, weight and balance are critical characteristics to think about when selecting a new hunting knife.
A lightweight knife will feel lighter in your hand, making it easy to swing. Conversely, a heavier knife will feel more substantial in your hand, giving you a greater ability to drive the point home. However, there’s no right answer here; each person will have their own preference based on how they intend to use the knife.
Choosing a knife according to length is somewhat subjective, as what constitutes long or short depends largely on personal experience and comfort level. However, there are general rules of thumb to help make decisions.
Shorty knives typically range from 3 to 4 inches in total, including the tang, and generally serve as backup knives for emergencies or everyday carry purposes. Standard knives fall between 4 and 5 inches in total and are commonly referred to as chefs’ knives because of their versatility for cutting tasks around the kitchen. Large hunting knives measure over 6 inches in total and are suitable for big game hunters who spend hours looking for their dinner.
There are several different styles of hunting knives, which vary depending on how the hunter intends to use the knife.
- Traditional hunting knives feature a straight blade with a tip that sits flush with the handle. These knives are great for gutting and processing game animals because they allow you to see exactly where you’re making cuts.
- Spearpoint hunting knives have a spearpoint shape that tips the blade off the handle. These knives excel at penetrating solid objects such as rocks and tree trunks because of their narrow head design.
- Curved hunting knives resemble scimitars or tomahawks. These knives suit active hunters who stalk their prey rather than wait for it to wander into their sights.
- Pocket hunting knives are small enough to slip into your pocket when finished hunting so that you don’t have to carry them separately.
Types Of Hunting Knives
Hunting knives come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each has its place, but you need to know what you’re getting into before making your final purchase.
The most common type of hunting knife is the retractable blade. These blades are legal to hunt with in most areas, and they can be extremely handy when setting up camp or cooking dinner. Retractable knives tend to have locking mechanisms that prevent them from accidentally snapping while under load. This makes them safer to use than fixed-blade knives, which lack any such safety features.
Most retractable knives will feature some sort of pocket clip so that you can easily carry it around without worrying about damaging it. The best designs also include a sheath so that you can safely store the knife after each use. Most sheaths for this kind of knife will be made out of leather, though synthetic materials like nylon are also available. Synthetic sheaths offer several advantages over traditional leather ones. They don’t break down as quickly in terms of quality, and they cost less to replace if damaged.
In many ways, retractable knives are the reverse of this type of knife. These knives have a full tang, or the piece of the blade inside the handle, that extends all the way through the center of the blade, as opposed to needing a large mechanism to lengthen the blade. This gives it extra heft and stops the tip from breaking off at a crucial time. These knives are significantly more common among EDC fans because there is no chance of self-cutting with a fixed blade. These knives aren’t very useful for larger game animals like deer or elk since the blade locks into place. Even rabbits can be difficult to hunt with a fixed blade because of their rapid reflexes that allow them to dodge the blade at the last second.
Because of their size and weight, fixed blades require hunters to be fairly skilled to properly deploy the weapon on large mammals. In addition to having good aim, these hunters must consider windage, especially when shooting downhill toward open water. If not shot perfectly, the animal could run far enough ahead of the hunter that he or she would lose sight of the animal entirely. Finally, the biggest disadvantage of a fixed blade is the absence of a retraction mechanism; instead, the blade just gets longer as the user pulls back the trigger. Since the blade doesn’t lock into place, hunters should exercise caution when pulling the trigger until they are ready to shoot again.
How We Chose Our Top Picks
Hunting knives are a niche product that serves as an intermediary between your everyday kitchen knife and the great outdoors. With this in mind, we scoured various online retailers for the best hunting knives with an emphasis on those products that would be most useful to hunters.
To assure dependability, we examined top-rated items from respected manufacturers. In order to get a feel of what people are saying about these knives, we also read through consumer reviews. Customer reviews are a terrific method to learn what other people think of a product, but keep in mind that not all consumers will share the same opinions.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hunting Knives
What is the best type of knife for backcountry elk mountains high?
The one you train with.
How sharp should a hunting knife be?
Sharp is as sharp does. That said, most experts agree that a 20,000 grit, 17-degree edge is as close to being perfect as it can get. The only caveat I’d offer is that this doesn’t mean much if your intended use isn’t going to place significant loads on the blade.
Can you have a bowie knife or machete?
Technically, yes. However, in common usage, these two types of blades are not interchangeable because they’re designed for different purposes and operate under different rules of thumb. For example, you could conceivably end up with an oversized Bowie knife if you buy a cheap machete and happen to catch some bad guys. You might also lose an arm if you attempt to use it to bat away incoming fire.
Is a hunting knife legal?
In general, local restrictions apply when it comes to carrying concealed weapons. In certain states, however, there are no laws restricting the carry of concealed fixed blades (knives). As always, it’s important to study the laws and restrictions surrounding your state.