Choosing a knife is a very personal decision that is largely based on the needs of the user. Picking the best hunting knives out of all the possibilities is a difficult task. Here are three great hunting knives that you might consider when selecting that perfect blade of your own.
The CRKT Onion Skinner:
Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) makes this special hunting knife from master designer Ken Onion. Onion calls the Skinner knife “the ultimate hunting knife.” Whether this is true is ultimately up to the user, but the Onion Skinner has a lot going for it.
First, the knife is not just a theoretical design. Onion developed and tested the design for more than five years. He would make custom prototype knives and send them to Alaskan hunting guides with the intent they would be used and he would get feedback about what did, and did not, work. Only after this rigorous testing process did he finalize the design.
Second, the knives use high quality components. The K110 stainless steel blade has a hollow grind and plain edge. The hardness rating is 58-60, which makes for a tough knife that can be made very sharp. Blade length is 3.75 inches, which is just about the perfect length for many hunters.
Lastly, the Onion Skinner is an awesome value. It gives the hunter a single knife that can handle skinning, yet is precise enough for caping cuts as well. This eliminates the need for a second knife. When you work in the MSRP of only $89.99, it is easy to see why this high-quality tool ranks as one of the best hunting knife values on the market.
The Infamous Gerber Gator:
The Gerber Gator is a folding hunting knife that comes in a variety of configurations. My preferred version is the drop point, fine edged model. The drop point gives the blade more strength and a fuller belly for skinning operations. While some people make an argument for a partially serrated blade, I much prefer the plain, fine edge for gutting operations.
The Gator has a blade length of 3.76”. It uses a lock back mechanism for securing the blade in the open position. Many hunters are concerned about a folding knife collapsing onto their hand while field dressing an animal. Many users have run their Gators extensively since the early 1990‘s and have never experienced any problem.
A soft rubber grip with a alligator skin-like texture covers the handle of this knife. It is very grippy and a hunter is not likely to lose his or her grip during the field dressing process.
At only $56 (MSRP), the Gator is affordable to nearly every hunter. It comes with a nylon belt sheath and a lifetime warranty. Gerber is also one of the top producers of more practical EDC pocket knife models.
The Original Wyoming Knife:
This is a specialty hunting knife designed for field dressing big game from deer to moose. It uses a razor sharp gut hook-type blade to make short work of all aspects of skinning and gutting an animal.
The knife handle is an extremely tough glass-filled polymer. It has two round holes that the user inserts their first two fingers through. This will give the hunter enough control over the sharp blades to efficiently skin an animal, and still avoid cutting themselves.
The front of the handle curves into a horseshoe shape, which is where one of the surgical steel blades resides. This blade, the gut hook, is perfect for ripping the belly without damaging the organs.
A second blade, similar in appearance to a bear claw, is opposite of the gut hook. This additional blade is also razor sharp and is excellent for cutting the skin from the body of the animal.
The Original Wyoming Knife is purpose built, and for skinning a deer, you would be hard pressed to find a more efficient tool. For this reason, it finds its way onto this list of best hunting knives. Suggested retail pricing runs from $26.90 to $29.80 depending on what kind of case (nylon or leather) you want.
For more information on properly using your hunting knife in the field dressing of a game animal, be sure to check out these detailed guides from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Penn State University.