The 5 Best Hunting Knives: Reviews & Comparison

best hunting knife

The best hunting knife is the outdoorsman’s best friend. There are so many things you can do if you have a high quality hunting knife in your possession. You can use one to skin and field dress your kills. If you and your buddies want to enjoy a meal outdoors, the hunting knife can also double as the kitchen knife you use to chop ingredients up.

Even beyond processing the animal, the hunting knife is useful for other important applications such as cutting through rope or even hacking through smaller branches in a pinch.

To get an even better sense of how essential the hunting knife is to the outdoorsman, just think of all the things you can do if you happen to forget this tool at home.

Obviously, you need a hunting knife in your pocket, but finding the right one is easier said than done. You can make that process easier though by looking through the selection of hunting knives featured in this article and considering the factors included in the buying guide.

Best Hunting Knife Reviews: Our 5 Favorite Knives

KA-BAR Hunting Knife (Becker)

When you purchase a hunting knife, you want something that can stay in great shape even after plenty of uses. You also want a knife that can handle the many tasks you’ll be using it for.

This hunting knife from KA-BAR fits that description very well.

The moment you get the chance to use this hunting knife for the first time, you should be able to tell right away that it is a highly durable piece of outdoor equipment. It’s solidly built and the full tang construction ensures that it will not bend or break easily.

You’ll appreciate the similarly durable and stable handle that allows you to firmly grip and control the blade. Getting that firm grip on this knife is crucial because of its weight.

Weighing in at around 1 pound, this is among the heaviest hunting knives you’ll encounter. Having a larger knife is great if you’re working your way through the bigger chunks of game meat, but it’s not quite as advantageous when you are trying to make precise cuts.

Also included together with this hunting knife is a hard shell black nylon sheath. The sheath secures the knife properly and does a great job of protecting the edge of the blade.

One last thing to note is that this is simply one of the cooler-looking hunting knives you’ll see. Feel free to brandish this bad boy when you want to impress your hunting buddies.

Pros
  • Ideal for heavy duty applications
  • Highly durable hunting knife
  • Packaged together with a hard shell black nylon sheath
Cons
  • Weight can make it tough to use for precision cuts

ESEE 5P Hunting Knife

Manufacturers make use of different approaches to set their products apart from the pack. They may include some unique functions or change up the look of a traditional item significantly to do so. In the case of this ESEE hunting knife, the manufacturers opted to make use of some unconventional materials.

For the knife’s handle, the manufacturers decided to use the material known as Micarta. Micarta is so well-suited for outdoor usage that it’s a mystery that it isn’t more popular. It features terrific weather resistance and it also maintains its strength well even as it ages.

For the sheath included with this hunting knife, the manufacturers went with Kydex. Kydex has been used primarily as a holster for guns but it works just as well for knives. Think of it as a material that closely resembles leather, though it holds up better to aging.

The blade is also made of high quality material. With the weight this knife possesses, you should be able to cut through all kinds of tougher materials while wielding it.

Of course, there is a downside to having a hunting knife that weights a bit too much. For one, it can hamper your movement slightly if you keep it in your pocket. Trying to execute delicate cuts with this knife in your hand is also a challenge.

Pros
  • Micarta handle holds up well to the elements
  • Kydex sheath is remarkably durable
  • Features a strong, heavy-duty blade
Cons
  • Not suitable for delicate cutting applications

Buck Knives 119 Hunting Knife

Hunting knives are exposed to all kinds of corrosive materials. Even if you take great care of your knife and clean it regularly, it will inevitably succumb to at least some amount of corrosion. The best you can do is stave off that corrosion for as long as possible.

To fight off corrosion, the folks at Buck Knives used 420HC stainless steel in this product. The advantage that 420HC stainless steel has over other variants is that it fends off corrosion incredibly well. Prolonged exposure to the elements is not going to be the death knell for this hunting knife.

The makers of this hunting knife also did a great job of striking an ideal balance when it comes to weight. It features enough heft to cut through thicker materials while also remaining light enough to be reasonably portable and delicate.

Look at the blade and you’ll see that it features a clip point. Clip points on blades are great for puncturing and it can be quite useful during the field dressing process. Just be careful that you don’t accidentally puncture something with it.

One problem with this hunting knife though is its handle. It’s too smooth for a hunting knife. Even a small amount of moisture can cause the knife handle to become too slick and that may lead to you struggling with it.

A handle with a rougher texture would be better on this knife.

Pros
  • Features terrific corrosion resistance
  • Has good weight for a hunting knife
  • Clip point included is good for puncturing
Cons
  • Handle installed is way too smooth

Cold Steel 49HSF Hunting Knife

When you think of what kind of hunting knife you’ll find most useful, you may picture some kind of heavy-duty tool that could probably be used for combat in a pinch. It’s true that in many situations, having a bigger and stronger hunting knife is ideal.

In some scenarios though, having a smaller knife helps as well and that’s what you’re getting from Cold Steel.

This Cold Steel hunting knife almost functions like a more durable paring knife. It’s short and slender enough to fit into all kinds of tight crevices. This is the kind of knife you want to pull out of your bag when you want to be more careful working on the animal carcass or if you’re trying to field dress a smaller animal.

Working to make this knife even more like a paring knife is the curved blade. You can slide it in at odd angles easily because of that. The serrated edge featured on this hunting knife is also remarkably sharp.

Now, it’s time to discuss the handle of this knife. As you can tell just from how it looks, it’s not a conventionally designed handle. It’s hard to hold on it to for a long time because it will start to feel uncomfortable.

After you’re done using and cleaning this hunting knife, you can place it inside the durable sheath.

Pros
  • Great for precise cutting
  • Gives you a long, curved blade
  • Serrated edge makes the knife extra sharp
Cons
  • Comes with a very uncomfortable handle

Gerber Myth Fixed Blade Pro Knife

Field dressing an animal is something you should do as soon as possible. If you don’t handle the carcass properly in the immediate aftermath of the kill, there’s a chance that it will turn into a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, especially if you have to travel a long distance before you can refrigerate it.

To make the task of proper field dressing significantly easier, this hunting knife from Gerber offers a feature known as a gut hook. When utilized well, a gut hook can make field dressing so much simpler. It allows you to quickly tear through the skin while also leaving it relatively intact.

It will likely take some practice before you get used to the gut hook, but it should turn out to be a great addition in the long run.
Despite it being a shorter hunting knife, this item possesses quite a bit of strength. That’s due in large part to the full tang construction that provides improved stability.

The high-carbon stainless steel blade features impressive sharpness and durability, although it’s not very flexible.

However, there is a problem with the handle of this hunting knife as it’s on the shorter side. It can be tough to grasp at times.

Included together with this item is a dual-lock sheath that will keep the knife in place even if you move around a lot. The sheath also features a built-in carbide sharpener.

Pros
  • Manufacturers have included a gut hook
  • High-carbon stainless steel blade is strong and durable
  • Bundled together with a very secure sheath
Cons
  • Knife handle included is on the shorter side

The Buying Guide of Hunting Knife

Finding a good hunting knife can be surprisingly difficult, but if you keep the following factors in mind, you should be able to make that process easier.

Blade Material

Manufacturers have used all kinds of materials to craft the blades of knives. Walk into a busy kitchen and you may see knives that are equipped with ceramic or even titanium blades.

Ceramic and titanium aren’t typically used for hunting knives. For the most part, manufacturers stick with steel, but what’s important to note here is that different variants of steel are still used.

Hunting knives with S30V blades are made out of vanadium steel. Vanadium steel blades can last for an incredibly long time as long as you care for them. They tend to be expensive when they are used for hunting knives though.

The VG-10 marking on the hunting knife indicates that it features a high-wear stainless steel blade. When it comes to edge retention, this is the kind of blade you want.

154CM blades are fashioned from high-carbon stainless steel. These blades also resist corrosion well, but it is somewhat brittle.

Last up are the hunting knives that have 420HC blades. A 420HC blade is made from medium-carbon stainless steel and it is your best option for corrosion resistance.

Handle Material

The only way to ensure that you’ll be able to use a hunting knife properly is if you’re comfortable wielding it. The part of the knife that plays the largest role in determining how comfortable it will be to use is the handle.

Different kinds of materials have been used to make knife handles.

The manufacturers who prefer to keep things old school go for wood. If they want something stronger and more durable, they will often go with a metal handle. To make the hunting knife more affordable, some makers may install a plastic handle.

It’s a good idea to pick up the knife yourself and grasp it fully in your hand before deciding if you can work well with the handle. Sometimes, even a plastic handle may be better suited to you.
For the purposes of introducing additional durability, some knife makers will use synthetic materials such as Micarta.
Size
The size of the hunting knife can determine what kind of applications it is best used for.

The smaller and lighter knives are what you should seek out if you need something for field dressing animals such as squirrels or birds. Their compact nature makes it easier for you to maneuver them into the right spots within the animal carcass.

Larger hunting knives are at their best when they are used for cutting through thick slabs of meat. They can also be helpful when you need to cut through brushes and branches.

Sheaths

Don’t forget about the sheaths when you’re shopping for a hunting knife that cannot be folded itself. The sheath is what keeps the blade of the hunting knife tucked away. With a reliable sheath covering your hunting knife, you can slip that tool into your pocket and not worry about it again until later.

FAQs When Buying a Hunting Knife

What is the tang of a hunting knife?

One of the more unfamiliar words that experienced hunters often use in conversations about their knives is tang. In this context, tang is not referring to that distinct flavor quality. It is instead referring to the portion of the blade that remains hidden from view and reaches into the handle of the knife.

There are two basic types of knife tangs – the full tang and the partial tang.

When you say that a knife features a full tang design, that means that the blade extends all the way to the end of the handle. Hunting knives will often feature a full tang design because it offers greater stability and strength.

Grouped under the full tang classification are four more subclasses – encapsulated, extended, hidden, and skeletonized.

Encapsulated tangs are covered up by the material used in the knife handle. Functionally, they work as full tang knives, but their appearance may suggest that they are partial tang knives.

A knife with an extended tang is also functionally similar to a full tang knife, but that little part of the tang that juts out at the end of the handle can be used in a variety of ways.

Hidden tangs are smaller than true full tangs, but they still make it all the way to the end of the knife’s handle. Skeletonized tangs extend throughout the handle, but they are hollowed out. They are hollowed out so that the knives can be made lighter.

In a partial tang knife, the blade will only reach through a portion of the knife handle. Partial tang knives cannot offer the same type of strength and stability that full tang knives do, but they do generally cost less.

The two subclasses of partial tang knives are push and tapered.

Push tang knives are equipped with blades that are simply pressed into the handle. They feature significantly less stability because of that design, but they can still be used well for light applications.

If a hunting knife has a tapered tang, that usually means that the blade shrinks as it goes through the handle. You may find some tapered knives with tangs that reach the end of the handle, but more often than not, the blade falls well short of that point.

You may also find hunting knives with rat-tailed tangs. Rat-tailed knives blur the lines between full and partial tang knives.

Technically speaking, the tangs of rat-tailed knives do make it to the end of the handle, but the amount of material that extends through the handle is not enough to offer improved stability.

If you have the money for it, go ahead and invest in a full tang hunting knife.

What are the extra features to look for in hunting knives?

Hunting knives may offer certain features that turn them into even more useful tools.

One such feature is known as the gut hook. The gut hook is an additional feature that you will use most often during the field dressing process. It allows the knife to cut faster and cleaner through the skin of the animal.

A clip point is another good feature to have on a hunting knife when you’re field dressing. The aforementioned feature can help you puncture certain organs faster, thus allowing you to spend less time on field dressing.

Serrated edges are also great to see on hunting knives. The serrations on the edge effectively make the knife sharper. The serrations can also help you cut and chop your way through rougher materials such as tree branches and ropes.