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The 8 Best Hunting Knives in 2021
A hunting knife, like any other knife, is a tool that’s designed to do a particular job. When you’re out in the field, you need to know with absolute certainty that you’re carrying the right tools for the right job.
The knives on this list are some of the best tools for the jobs hunters need their knives to do: skinning, boning, and butchering game.
First, a word on some of these choices. There are fixed-blade as well as folding knives on this list. I know some people don’t really consider folding knives to be hunting knives.
But for my money, there are some truly great folding knives for hunters, so don’t write them off. I also like how easy they are to carry.
Most of these knives are relatively compact (with the exception of a couple of heavier-duty bushcraft knives that happen to also be great hunting knives). None of the knives on this list have gut hooks or serrated edges.
Maybe it’s a matter of personal preference, but I think if you have a good knife with a sharp blade, you’re better off without them. Alright, let’s get to it.
1. Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Companion Fixed Blade Knife
The KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is a jack of all trades. With a 5.25″ fixed blade, this heavy-duty full tang field knife is a trusted companion for all kinds of outdoor adventures.
Hunters will find the KA-BAR Becker BK2 adept at tasks like skinning and de-boning. But this knife is also solid enough to handle camp chores like splitting out kindling, and even fine enough for delicate operations like filleting fish.
The 1095 Cro-Van steel blade is not the hardest steel out there, but it’s reliable and easy to re-sharpen. The comfortable Grivory handle offers a balanced grip and fits the contours of the average hunter’s hand perfectly.
The BK2 Companion also comes with a hard-shell black nylon sheath for easy, secure carrying. The whole package weighs about 1 pound, so this is definitely a heavy-duty knife. Best of all, KA-BAR knives are made right here in the USA.
2. Spyderco Proficient Fixed Blade
Spyderco makes some of the most reliable, high-performance knives on the market, and the Spyderco Proficient Fixed Blade Knife is no exception. Trusted by hunters the world over, this is a bushcraft knife that really does it all.
The blade is made of CPM S90V particle-metallurgy stainless steel, which holds an edge very well. The knife has a full tang, with a solid carbon fiber handle that resists slips and is contoured to fit in the hand comfortably.
With a 4″ Blade (8.75″ overall length) the Proficient Fixed Blade Knife is lightweight and compact. It weighs just 6.3 ounces, but it’s plenty tough enough for all your hunting duties.
The Spyderco Proficient comes with a handsome black leather sheath. Some users have found the sheath to be lacking in quality compared to the knife itself, but it’s a small quibble with an otherwise flawless design.
3. Opinel No. 8 Beechwood Handle Knife
The Opinel No.08 is beautiful in its simplicity, and very well-made despite its almost shockingly low price tag. There’s a reason Opinel has been making these things since 1890, and the design has remained virtually unchanged.
The blade is made of extremely hard carbon steel which is great for maintaining a keen edge. Two stainless Virobloc safety rings provide secure locking, and the handsome beechwood handle is both rugged and comfortable.
It’s worth noting that folding hunting knives are not for everyone. And to be fair, this is not a knife for big game hunters; it’s best suited for cleaning small to midsize game.
The Opinel No.08 is a great everyday-carry pocket knife that’s also a useful hunting knife. With a 3.25” blade, it weighs just 1.5 ounces. Opinel also makes this knife in other sizes, ranging from the N.06 (2.87” blade) to the N.12 (4.82” blade).
4. Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife
Gerber has several good knives in their lineup, but the StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife is arguably the one best suited to hunters’ needs. It’s fairly lightweight at 7.9 ounces, but still has the kind of solid construction that inspires confidence.
This knife has a 4.8″ fine edge, full tang blade – Gerber also makes a version with a partially serrated blade – made of 420HC steel. It’s easy to sharpen in the field and has a ceramic coating for smoother cutting.
The StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife comes with a versatile sheath for multiple carry options. It has a sturdy striking pommel and a rubberized diamond texture grip that doesn’t slip in slick conditions.
5. Morakniv Companion MG Carbon Knife
You could be forgiven for writing off the Morakniv Companion MG after one glance at its almost preposterously low price tag. But hang on there. This is actually a great hunting knife. And I don’t mean “great for the price,” I mean actually great.
The Companion MG Carbon Knife has a 4.1″ fixed blade made of corrosion-resistant Sandvik carbon steel, and a rubberized high-friction grip handle. It comes in a rainbow of colors and weighs just 3.9 ounces.
The plastic sheath that comes with the Morakniv leaves a bit to be desired, but other than that it’s hard to find fault with this product. It comes with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects and is likely to outlive knives that cost many times more.
6. Benchmade Hidden Canyon Hunter
Benchmade has a pretty deep roster of hunting knives, each unique and each made with a purpose. The Hidden Canyon Hunter, while versatile, is designed primarily with precision cutting in mind.
Its relatively short (2.79″) drop point blade is ideal for that task and is made of razor-sharp CPM-S90V stainless steel. The handle is made of textured Richlite, a tough and eco-friendly, paper-based fiber composite.
But despite its somewhat compact profile, the Benchmade Hidden Canyon Hunter is equally adept at processing small and big game. And while function is always more important than style, it’s also worth noting this is a very eye-catching knife.
7. Havalon Piranta-Edge Knife
I’ll say it now. The Havalon Piranta-Edge Knife is the sharpest knife you’ll ever own, perfect for skinning and filleting. It has a blaze orange handle so it’s always easy to find, and black gripping inlay to avoid slips.
The blade is thin and prone to breaking if a twisting motion is applied. Fortunately, the Havalon Piranta-Edge is designed for quick blade replacements. It comes with 12 extra blades and a handy tool to change them in the field.
The blade length is 2.75″, and the knife weighs a feather-light 1.69 ounces. A word of caution: read the instructions before attempting to change the blade. It’s a little tricky, and – I cannot stress this enough – this knife is very sharp.
8. Buck Knives 110 Folding Hunter Knife
Words like “classic” and “iconic” tend to get tossed around a lot when people talk about Buck Knives. They’ve been making beautiful, traditional knives in Idaho since 1902. Basically, they know what they’re doing.
The Buck Knives 110 Folding Hunter Knife has long been one of their most recognizable creations, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a stylish, ruggedly constructed knife that was designed for hunting but is perfect for nearly any task that requires a sharp blade.
The Folding Hunter has a razor-sharp 3.75″ 420HC stainless steel clip-point blade, and a traditional wood handle with brass bolsters. It weighs a light-but-sturdy 7.2 ounces and has a reliable Lockback mechanism for safe and easy use.
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Hunting Knives FAQs
“Hunting knife” is a hard term to define. It’s a broad category of knives that are essentially designed to aid hunters in their most important task: quickly field dressing their kill so it will be preserved and not go to waste. Hunting knives may be either fixed-blade or folding knives, and they can have a wide range of blade sizes and styles.
Each type of knife has qualities that make it suited to its task. Survival knives tend to be heavy, with thick blades for tough tasks like batoning firewood. Tactical knives are usually very lightweight so they can be easily used for defense. Hunting knives, above all, need to be extremely sharp.
Grip is important. A good hunting knife shouldn’t slip when used under wet, slippery conditions. It should fit comfortably in your hand, and be strong and stout enough to handle jobs like separating joints and cracking bone, but it doesn’t have to be huge and heavy. A lot of the best hunting knives have 3 to 5-inch blades.
Knife blades are either made of stainless steel or carbon steel. Stainless steel is softer, which means it dulls more easily, but is also easier to sharpen in the field. Carbon steel is harder, which means it keeps a sharp edge longer, but is harder to sharpen. Many hunters prefer stainless steel because it is also less brittle and prone to breaking.