The Complete Guide for Hunting Knives

Posted by Steven Tuckey on

Hunting knives are among the most significant gear to use in hunting, and a passionate hunter knows his way around them. Evidence suggests that humans have been creating knife-like tools, which have continued to progress for hundreds of thousands of years (there is a reason we refer to each age by the tools we made during that period; Stone Age, Bronze, Iron, etc).

While an all-purpose hunting knife is used for cutting, slicing, or general utility, many people have learned to modify its uses. Various materials and blades for specific tasks such as skinning, gutting, deboning, and throwing have emerged. If you are new to hunting knives or a die-hard hunter, you are in the right place. This article will show the complete guide on what is the best brand of hunting knife and how to know what fits you.


Defining Hunting Knives

Despite its name, most hunting knives are not generally or necessarily meant for "hunting". Hunting knives focuses more on what happens after the hunt. On a successful search, the game must be cleaned, skinned, and processed, where the primary blade, usually with a single sharpened edge, has its purpose. Hunting knives can be for many tasks, like general-purpose camp knives, field knives, or even small machetes. However, the primary job of hunting knives centres around food preparation.

Usage of Hunting Knives

A hunting knife is one of the most versatile tools you can have when hunting or going outdoors. As mentioned, hunting knives can be for different tasks. However, they are more valuable and purposeful to skin, gut, and process animals. Like all knives, hunting knives have an endless list of possible ways to use them. 

Furthermore, if a job involves a knife to complete, a hunting knife can get the job done well. Let us go into more depth on a few of the primary and expected uses of hunting knives.

Field Dressing

A hunting knife is one of the most versatile tools you can have when hunting or outdoors. As mentioned, hunting knives can be of different tasks. However, they are more valuable and purposeful to skin, gut, and process animals. Like all knives, hunting knives have an endless list of possible ways to use them. Field dressing refers to the preparation of a carcass for transportation and later eating. Often hunters will remove a lot of internal organs such as the stomach and digestive tract, along with the skin and even the head. This reduces the overall weight, and aids in prolonging the integrity of the meat by lowering the temperature of the carcass rapidly. 


Similar to field dressing, another common and practical application of a hunting knife is skinning. Skinning is usually done once the animal has been brought back to the camp or taken down on the field. When you skin an animal, you remove the hide from the carcass to get to the animal's meat. Skinning an animal effectively requires a lot of practice and patience, but a sharp hunting knife will help you along the process. Hunting knives that are made specifically for skinning usually have a thin and small blade that is slightly curved so that it will be easier to skin the animal. Smaller animals like rabbits, can be skinned on the ground easily, where as larger animals require hanging to skin effectively.


Gutting is the same as field dressing, wherein you remove most of the internal organs to ensure that the meat stays preserved and to make removing the meat from the carcass easier. Gutting an animal is essential and requires a little practice to be good at it. Any knife will be beneficial for gutting an animal, but a sharp hunting knife with a gut hook is preferable.


From the name itself, deboning is when you remove the bones from the dead animal so it will be easier to carry. Deboning is not usually used as a part of the regular processing of an animal. However, deboning is helpful to lighten the animal if you must move it over long distances. Hunting knives are an excellent tool for deboning animals; as long as it is sharp with a fine tip, it should be easy to debone an animal in the field and make it much more effortless. Generally boning an animal is completed back at camp rather than in the field, as it is more involved than skinning or gutting. By removing the legs and separating the ribs section from the loin of the animal, you can preserve the quality of the meat and store effectively.


Undoubtedly, butchering a game animal requires proficiency, skills, and a lot of practice. There are a lot of different methods and techniques for butchering an animal, and the one thing they all have in common is that they require a sharp hunting knife. Knives made explicitly for butchering come in all shapes and sizes, but they often have thin enough blades to cut and process the animal effectively. Butchering relates more to primal and secondary cuts, rather than the slaughter and field dressing described above. Primal cuts are first cuts made to 'joint' an animal, where as secondary cuts relate to the portioning and filleting of primal cuts. Knives made for these purposes tend to be thinner and more basic than other hunting knives. 

Types of Hunting Knives

The knife is one of man's oldest and most versatile hand tools. As you are new to the world of hunting, you are now becoming an enthusiast in exploring different hunting knives. This article will unravel several other hunting knives to choose from, depending on your preferred requirements.

The Buck

Buck Knife

The buck is also known as the multipurpose knife. This type of knife can almost do anything a general knife can, such as skinning, boning, slicing, and chopping. That means this knife is a lifesaver whenever you're traveling light. Instead of bringing lots of knives, the buck can handle every knife usage for you.

Bowie knife

Bowie Knife

Also known as the hunter's classic, the Bowie hunting knife derived its name from its creator James Bowie. Bowie knives can be for various tasks, such as skinning, butchering, and even chopping wood, making them more versatile. This is an excellent all-around hunting knife for people who like to spend many days in nature. A Bowie hunting knife consists of a large fixed blade with a sharp point, usually between six and twelve inches long with clipped point. 

Gutting knife

Gut Hook Knife

If you are looking for a must-have hunting knife and want to get your game as a real hunter, then you would love the gutting knife. As its name suggests, a gutting knife is used to open the animal and remove the organs without damaging them. A gutting knife is also used to prepare fish efficiently. Furthermore, this is an essential hunting knife for hunters who want to avoid getting their hands dirty. 

Boning knife

boning knife

Boning knives have long, thin, flexible blades with sharp tips to make piercing meat easier and safer. It is designed to separate meat from the bone and cuttings through ligaments and connective tissue. Boning knives must be extremely sharp, and the more rigid the blade, the longer it will retain its sharpness. 


Dagger Hunting Knife

If you are new to hunting, having a dagger is a must. The reason behind that is the dagger's light composition and sharp edges, making it perfect for beginners. The dagger has a thin, long blade and is used to pierce game and field dressing. Typically, hunters aim for the heart without destroying the animal's composition and organs. Because the dagger is double-edged, it is slightly less multi-purpose than other hunting knives, as you cannot use the spine to apply pressure like the Buck and Bowie knives.

Skinner or skinning knife

Skinning Knife

The skinner or skinning knife is a small, sharp knife used for skinning animals. It has a thin blade with a sharp rising head to prevent the skin from tearing or puncturing. There is also a type of skinning knife called a head skinning knife. This knife is designed to precisely cut the head and shoulders of the animals. The skinner is a versatile hunting knife and can be used for other tasks, such as gutting fish and cleaning small game.

Famous Hunting Knife Brands

A hunting knife must have the geometry and design to accomplish its job of helping a hunter succeed in the field. From the initial kill through the final processing of the game animal, indeed, a hunting knife is essential. That is why you must use some of the famous hunting knife brands. Here are some of the famous and trusted hunting knife brands.

Morakniv Basic

Morakniv Basic is a relatively cheap knife which costs less than $20. Even with its small structure, this knife can handle big-game hunting any time of the day. Indeed, this knife is a game changer in the outdoor world. Aside from its cutting and slicing ability, Morakniv can also do the job of gutting and deboning fish. Not to mention that it has a bright-coloured handle which can be easily seen when you drop it on the ground.

Argali Carbon Knife

Another one on our list is the Argali Carbon Knife. This hunting brand specialises in lightweight back-country hunting gear. That is the very reason why they decided to focus on producing hunting knives. Furthermore, compared to Morakniv, Argali Carbon Knife is more expensive and usually costs around $200. 

Their field testing has proved it to be an agile and effective knife on big game in the field. Also, the light, ergonomic handle ensures you don't lose control of your grip even in wet and challenging conditions. The best part, though, is that Argali offers their customers a lifetime of free sharpening from their best hunting knife sharpener.

Benchmade Raghorn

The Benchmade Raghorn costs around $300 - $400 and is considered a next-level hunting knife. Moreover, this hunting knife brand packs a punch. Also, it has an aggressive jimping (small cutouts or ridges) along the spine and finger choil (the unsharpened gap between cutting edge and grip) that provides an extraordinary grip. Some knife enthusiasts recommend this brand as one of the toughest to beat. Another notable trait of this brand is its lightness, making it easier to use when traveling outdoors.

Buck Pursuit Large Knife

Buck Pursuit Large Knife is considered at an average price compared to its competitors. This brand uses the famous steel-hardening traits of Buck in a modern hunting knife feature. Moreover, the Buck hunting knife brand is strong enough to hold an edge well, effectively processing a big game. Not to mention that it has a slip-resistant nylon handle that will surely grip your hands.

Kershaw CQC-11K

Made in collaboration with famous knifemaker Ernest Emerson, the CQC-11K has an approximately 3.5-inch blade of 8Cr14MoV steel. This model costs less than $100, making it affordable for those on a tight budget. When it comes to its edge, it has a folding hunting knife blade acting as a space saver whenever you are traveling. Furthermore, CQC-11K is one of the brand's newest models of hunting knives. In fact, most outdoor folks promote this brand because of its versatility in both hunting and survival.

KA-BAR Becker Companion

The Becker Companion, which costs around $90, has a famous 1095 Cro-Van blade. This kind of steel is known for medium edge retention. However, it has enough flexibility to be easily resharpened whenever needed. Moreover, this knife was made more on bushcraft than cleaning the game. However, if you love this model, don't worry, as you can still utilise it in general hunting and survival tasks. 

Also, if you want a tough fixed-blade knife that can transition from skinning game to batoning firewood, or if you are leaning towards a prominent, more formidable knife, this is definitely the best hunting knife brand for you.

Cutting it Out

Undoubtedly hunting knives are a crucial part of survival and success when traveling outdoors. If you are new to hunting or camping outdoors, you can never go wrong in having a hunting knife. That's why it is crucial to look for the right knife that fits your style. Be mindful of choosing a hunting knife. The knife should hold an edge or be quickly sharpened anytime. It should also fit well in your hand to protect you from any injury. 

Moreover, the best hunting knife is usually strong enough to split wood, and sharp enough to field dress animals. Remember that it doesn't have to be big or bulky like your regular kitchen knife. As much as possible, make it handy, so it can be readily used.

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