8 Best Hunting Knives: The Greatest Tools for Hunters

Best Hunting Knife

Hunting has been one of the main sources of food for human beings for millions of years. Before the invention of guns and other more sophisticated hunting tools, people have always relied on the best hunting knives to bring the kill home.

Hunting knives will play some of the most crucial roles in the hunting process from taking down the animal to skinning and gutting it.

And with the many kinds of hunting knives out there, things can be a little confusing when it comes to picking just one. However, picking up a good hunting knife only requires you to understand what these knives are all about and their anatomy.

Our guide below highlights some of the important things you need to know about the hunting knife, and we also review 10 top-rated hunting knives on the market to help make your choice easy.

IMAGE

​PRODUCT

​FEATURES

ESEE RC5PBK-BRK

1. ESEE RC5PBK-BRK (Best Overall)

  • Top notch high carbon stainless steel blade
  • Comfortable Micarta canvas handle
  • Jimping on the spine
  • Glass breaker on the pommel
MTech USA 13" Tactical Survival Hunting Knife

2. MTech USA 13-inch Tactical Survival Hunting Knife (Best Budget Hunting Knife)

  • More budget-friendly hunting knife
  • 7-inch stainless steel blade
  • Comfortable rubber-coated ABS handle
  • Versatile saw back design
Cold Steel 49HSFSZ

3. Cold Steel 49HSFSZ (Small but Efficient and Reliable)

  • Small and easily cancelable
  • Sharp, efficient and reliable blade
  • Full tang construction
  • Rugged sheath and bead chain lanyard
Buck Knives 0279BKS-B

4. Buck Knives 0279BKS-B (Razor-Sharp and Ready for Immediate Use)

  • Blade comes razor-sharp
  • Tough and corrosion-resistant blade material
  • Convenient one-handed opening
  • Anti-slip rubberized handle
Case 00379

5. Case 00379 (Versatile Fixed Blade Outdoors Knife)

  • Highly versatile fixed blade
  • Razor sharp surgical stainless steel blade
  • Polished leather handle
  • Full tang construction
Ka-Bar 2-1235-2

6. Ka-Bar 2-1235-2 (Well-Made Collectors and Outdoors Knife)

  • Sturdy and beautiful knife for collectors and outdoors use
  • Nice leather handle
  • Brass handguard included
  • Handy aluminum pommel
Buck Knives 110

7. Buck Knives 110 (Conveniently Foldable and High-Quality)

  • Convenient folding design
  • High-quality blade with excellent edge retention
  • Classic walnut handle
  • Lifetime warranty
Buck Knives 0393CMG20

8. Buck Knives 0393CMG20 (Perfect Knife for Field Dressing a Kill)

  • Guthook makes it perfect for field dressing
  • High carbon stainless steel blade material
  • Ergonomically curved handle with grip ridges
  • Heavy-duty polyester sheath

PRODUCT

1. ESEE RC5PBK-BRK

(Best Overall)

ESEE RC5PBK-BRK
  • Top notch high carbon stainless steel blade
  • Comfortable Micarta canvas handle
  • Jimping on the spine
  • Glass breaker on the pommel

2. MTech USA 13-inch Tactical Survival Hunting Knife

(Best Budget Hunting Knife)

MTech USA 13" Tactical Survival Hunting Knife
  • More budget-friendly hunting knife
  • 7-inch stainless steel blade
  • Comfortable rubber-coated ABS handle
  • Versatile saw back design

3. Cold Steel 49HSFSZ

(Small but Efficient and Reliable)

Cold Steel 49HSFSZ
  • Small and easily cancelable
  • Sharp, efficient and reliable blade
  • Full tang construction
  • Rugged sheath and bead chain lanyard

4. Buck Knives 0279BKS-B

(Razor-Sharp and Ready for Immediate Use)

Buck Knives 0279BKS-B
  • Blade comes razor-sharp
  • Tough and corrosion-resistant blade material
  • Convenient one-handed opening
  • Anti-slip rubberized handle

5. Case 00379

(Versatile Fixed Blade Outdoors Knife)

Case 00379
  • Highly versatile fixed blade
  • Razor sharp surgical stainless steel blade
  • Polished leather handle
  • Full tang construction

6. Ka-Bar 2-1235-2

(Well-Made Collectors and Outdoors Knife)

Ka-Bar 2-1235-2
  • Sturdy and beautiful knife for collectors and outdoors use
  • Nice leather handle
  • Brass handguard included
  • Handy aluminum pommel

7. Buck Knives 110

(Conveniently Foldable and High-Quality)

Buck Knives 110
  • Convenient folding design
  • High-quality blade with excellent edge retention
  • Classic walnut handle
  • Lifetime warranty

8. Buck Knives 0393CMG20

(Perfect Knife for Field Dressing a Kill)

Buck Knives 0393CMG20
  • Guthook makes it perfect for field dressing
  • High carbon stainless steel blade material
  • Ergonomically curved handle with grip ridges
  • Heavy-duty polyester sheath

1. ESEE RC5PBK-BRK – Best Overall

ESEE 5P Survival Hunting Knife
  • Blade Length: 5.25 inches
  • Blade Type: Fixed
  • Blade Material: 1095 high carbon stainless steel
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Weight: 25.6 ounces

The distinctive dark finish is one of the first elements that will draw your attention to this hunting knife. But this full tang knife also has a tough and sharp enough blade that will be very handy when hunting.

It is a 1095 high carbon stainless steel blade with a black powder coating, and it is 5.25 inches long to give you a long enough cutting area. Also, the blade has jimping on the spine to enhance the thump grip.

The Micarta handle is also quite comfortable and it will last for long enough. There is also a glass breaker pommel on the handle to help you crack bones and skulls and in emergency situations.

When compared to other knives on our hunting knife reviews, this 25.6-ounce one seems a little heavy but it is still well-balanced and easy to carry around. Also, the few extra bucks you pay for it are a reflection of its superior quality.

Pros:

  • Tough high carbon steel blade
  • Full tang design.
  • Jimping on the spine
  • Glass breaker pommel
  • Distinctive dark finish

Cons:

  • Relatively heavier knife
  • Significantly Pricier

2. MTech USA 13-inch Tactical Survival Hunting Knife – Best Budget Hunting Knife

MTech USA 13" Tactical Survival Hunting Knife
  • Blade Length: 7 inches
  • Blade Type: Fixed
  • Blade Material: Stainless steel
  • Handle Material: ABS with rubber coating
  • Weight: 8 ounces

This MTech USA knife is the best budget hunting knife on our list but it still looks good and performs relatively well.

Its 7 inches long stainless steel blade is the longest on our hunting knife reviews, and so you can be confident of getting more than enough cutting area when using it.

The hunting knife also has a saw back that can be quite useful when hunting or for your outdoor excursions. And it is also comfortable to hold even for extended periods thanks to the ABS handle with a rubber coating.

This knife will come with a nylon sheath and lanyard cord to give you more carrying options. And although the sheath is not the best quality, it still does the job well enough.

Pros:

  • Highly affordable
  • Saw back design
  • Relatively longer blade
  • Comfortable ABS handle

Cons:

  • Cheap and less durable sheath

3. Cold Steel 49HSFSZ – Small but Efficient and Reliable

Cold Steel 49HSFSZ Mini-Tac Hunting Knife
  • Blade Length: 3-3/8 inches
  • Blade Type: Fixed
  • Blade Material: AUS 8A stainless steel
  • Handle Material: Faux G-10
  • Weight: 4.8 ounces

Whether you want a knife for skinning or slashing, the Cold Steel 49HSFSZ mini hunting knife will be very useful. And despite having one of the shortest blades (3-3/8 inches) on our list it still performs incredibly well.

The small size and lightweight construction makes this an easy to conceal knife and it will be super easy to carry around for your hunting trips

It has a full tang construction that makes it tough enough for hunting, and it will come with faux G-10 handle scales that will not only provide a secure grip but also reduce rolling and twisting.

Carrying the knife for your hunting trips is also easy and convenient thanks to the sturdy bead chain lanyards and rugged sheath.

If you are looking for something for heavy-duty tasks like killing a large animal this might not be it but the knife is still highly useful for a wide variety of other hunting tasks.

Pros:

  • Small and efficient blade with razor sharp edge
  • Full tang construction
  • G10 handle scales
  • Sturdy bead chain lanyards

Cons:

  • Not useful for heavy-duty hunting tasks

4. Buck Knives 0279BKS-B – Razor-Sharp and Ready for Immediate Use

Buck 279 Folding Alpha Hunting Knife
  • Blade Length: 3.5 inches
  • Blade Type: Folding
  • Blade Material: 420 high carbon stainless steel
  • Handle Material: Rubberized
  • Weight: 8 ounces

Every hunter wants a razor-sharp hunting knife like the Buck 279 as it is ready to use immediately you get it from the box.

The folding hunting knife has a 3.5 inches 420 high carbon steel blade that is tough and highly resistant to corrosion. This blade also has excellent edge retention to minimize the frequency of resharpening.

Opening and closing this folding hunting knife is also quite straightforward and safe as it has a thumb stud that makes it possible to do it with just one hand. And there is also a comfortable rubberized handle for the perfect grip.

The anti-slip black rubberized handle is also a great addition to the design, and the hunting knife comes with a 20-foot cord.

The nylon sheath is not the best quality but it still does a good enough job and you can always get a better one for a few bucks.

Pros:

  • Razor sharp blade
  • One hand opening
  • Suitable for heavy tasks
  • Outstanding craftsmanship
  • Anti-slip rubberized grip

Cons:

  • Low-quality nylon sheath

5. Case 00379 – Versatile Fixed Blade Outdoors Knife

Case X-Small Leather Hunting Knife
  • Blade Length: 3.13 inches
  • Blade Type: Fixed
  • Blade Material: Surgical stainless steel
  • Handle Material: Polished leather
  • Weight: 2.5 ounces

If you want a knife that will come in handy for all your outdoor activities from hunting to hiking and camping, the highly versatile Case X-small is a good buy.

It uses has a Tru-Sharp steel blade that is not only razor sharp when you get it but also keeps the edge for a long time.

The concave ground clip blade will be ideal for working on rabbits, trout and all other kinds of small game. And although it might not be very useful with big game, Case still has almost similar hunting knives in larger sizes.

This full tang hunting knife also comes with a polished leather handle that is comfortable and soft enough for the hand and a genuine leather sheath.

Pros:

  • More versatile knife
  • Tru-sharp surgical steel blade
  • Polished leather handle
  • Full tang construction
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • A little too small for big game

6. Ka-Bar 2-1235-2 – Well-Made Collectors and Outdoors Knife

Ka-Bar 2-1235-2 Leather Handled Hunting Knife
  • Blade Length: 5-7/8 inches
  • Blade Type: Fixed
  • Blade Material: Stainless steel
  • Handle Material: leather
  • Weight: 8 ounces

Ka-Bar makes some of the best hunting knives and their 2-1235-2 leaves up to this reputation and the high standards that they have set. And this well-built, sturdy and attractive knife is made for both collectors and outdoor enthusiasts.

The leather handle not only feels soft and comfortable but it is also highly durable, and it combines with the top grade stainless steel blade to make this a long lasting knife.

The knife design also includes a brass handguard that will help to keep your fingers safe from the sharp edge and an aluminum pommel that will be useful for cracking open animal bones.

It also comes with a brown leather sheath which might need some improvements in its design but it is still quite durable. And the hunting knife will be great for both collectors and outdoor use by hunters.

Pros:

  • Great both collectors and outdoors use
  • Soft and comfortable leather handle
  • Brass handguard
  • Tough aluminum pommel
  • Brown leather sheath

Cons:

  • Sheath needs design improvement

7. Buck Knives 110 – Conveniently Foldable and High-Quality

Buck 110 Famous Folding Hunting Knife
  • Blade Length: 3-3/4 inches
  • Blade Type: Folding
  • Blade Material: 420 high carbon stainless steel
  • Handle Material: Macassar Ebony Dymondwood
  • Weight: 7.2 ounces

If you are one of those hunters that prefer the convenience of folding hunting knives, the Buck 110 is an excellent choice.

The top-rated folding hunting knife features a razor sharp 3-3/4 inches 240 high carbon stainless steel blade with excellent strength, edge retention and high resistance to corrosion.

This high-quality clip point blade combines with the classic walnut handle to create a tough hunting knife with a very appealing look.

Also, it has an equally efficient folding mechanism with nail notch for easy opening, and lockback to lock it in place when working. And the company will back it with a lifetime warranty.

Although the sheath looks a little flimsy, it is genuine leather that has been designed to provide many years of great service.

Pros:

  • Safe and easy to open folding mechanism
  • Razor sharp blade
  • Great for detail work
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Sheath looks a little flimsy

8. Buck Knives 0393CMG20 – Perfect Knife for Field Dressing a Kill

Buck 393 Fixed Blade Hunting Knife
  • Blade Length: 4 inches
  • Blade Type: Fixed
  • Blade Material: 420 high carbon stainless steel
  • Handle Material: Rubberized thermoplastic
  • Weight: 7.8 ounces

Gutting is always part of hunting and so the Buck 393 fixed blade knife with a gut hook blade will be a great addition to your hunting tools.

The blade is 420 high carbon stainless steel that is strong and resistant to corrosion and also retains the edge for quite a long time.

With this survival hunting knife, you also get to choose from three lovely handle color options. And the handle is ergonomically curved and with some grip ridges to ensure you always get a secure grip.

The hunting knife comes with a heavy duty polyester sheath with a snap closure and integrated belt loop for safe and secure carrying and also to provide quick access to the knife.

Some hunters might not like that this knife is a little larger than it looks but the good news is that carrying it to the field is still easy enough.

Pros:

  • Razor sharp gut hook blade
  • Multiple handle color options
  • Ergonomically curved handle
  • Heavy-duty sheath
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Larger than it looks

What is a Hunting Knife?

Hunting knife refers to any blade that is used in hunting. And since there are various stages of hunting, it can be quite a broad term.

No one knife can do it all as you will need a blade for various tasks from trimming brush when hunting to skinning, caping and boning the animal once you kill it.

Although no one knife can handle everything, there are some fixed blade knives that can help with most stages of hunting. And some companies will also make hunting knives with interchange blades for different purposes.

Hence, the bottom line is that any knife that plays a role in any stage of hunting qualifies to be referred as a hunting knife

Parts of a Hunting Knife

Parts of a Hunting Knife

A hunting knife consists of various parts or sections, and each has a role to play. In your search for the best hunting knife, it is always vital to understand these different parts and their roles.

Some of the common parts of a knife include:

  • Point: The tip of the blade or where the belly/edge meets the spine.
  • Spine: Back section of the blade that is responsible for supporting the cutting edge, and also provides strength and stiffness.
  • Belly: Curvature of the cutting edge of the blade and the more the belly the more convex the curve will be and hence the longer the cutting edge.
  • Edge: What does the actual cutting or the working part of the knife.
  • Choil: The non-sharpened part of the blade near the guard and it allows you to chock up on your blade when you need more control.
  • Jimping: Rough section of the spine also near the gourd that will give your thump a nonslip hold when you need more control of the blade for detailing.
  • Guard: Also referred to as the hilt and it is either a widened section of the scales or a fitted crosspiece that prevents your finger from sliding onto the edge.
  • Pommel: Although not a common part of hunting knives it is an enlarged/reinforced section on the butt of the handle that can be used to crack bones and skulls.
  • Bevel/Secondary Bevel: Actual angle of the cutting edge and it ranges between 22 and 30 degrees for most hunting knives. The secondary bevel is just above the bevel and it will lighten blade and also make it possible to get a sharper primary bevel.

It is important to also note that hunting knives might not have all these parts as it depends on the type or style. Hence, it is always necessary to decide the parts that you need on your hunting knife before buying one.

Types of Hunting Knife Blades

Types of Hunting Knife Blades

Since the blade does the actual cutting it is always the most important factor to consider when buying a hunting knife. And although there are many blade styles and types available, the following are the best for hunting.

1. Drop Point

Drop point is one of the oldest types of blades, and also among the most popular for hunting knives. It is the type where the point is below the spine but above the blade's mid-line.

These blade types offer great penetration and they always provide better control when slicing than most other types.

The drop point blades have a stronger point than the clip point and will be a better choice for cutting up birds and small game.

There are also a few variations of the drop point such as the Spey point which has a way much shorter drop.

2. Clip Point

Clip point is the kind of blade that you are likely to see on the most popular hunting knives. And it is characterized by a spine that extends two-thirds of the way from the guard before starting to taper and recurving to the point to create a false edge.

The false edge in the clip point blade can also be sharpened to give the knife a secondary edge.

This blade gets its name from the fact that the last 1/3 part of the blade looks like it has been clipped.

With these blades, the point will be in line with the spine, below it or even at the mid-width. These blades are quick to penetrate and also perform well enough for slicing.

3. Spear Point

For the novice knife users, it is hard to tell the spear and drop point blades apart. But despite their similarities, the spear point has the point at the centerline,

Spear point blades offer most of the benefits that you get from the drop point but they also have a stronger point. But, they are more popular for double-edge daggers but you can also occasionally find them on some sporting knives.

4. Trail Point

With the trail point blade, the point ends above the spine and with more belly. These blades will have a scimitar-like appearance.

Trail points are the best for skinning, and this is more so when you want to preserve the skin, and most seasoned hunters will have at least one. Although they are good for slicing their point is relatively weak.

5. Roach Belly Point

Roach belly point blades might have fallen out of favor in the recent past but they were quite popular with fur traders and trappers a few centuries ago.

These are great all-round sporting blades and they offer most of the advantages of clip and trail point blades. They are also handy as skinning or utility knives.

How to Buy the Best Hunting Knife

How to Buy a Hunting Knife

Here is what you need to consider when choosing the best hunting knife.

1. Blade

When it comes to the hunting knife blade there are two vital things that you need to think about which are the blade type and blade steel.

For the blade style, you need to pick between clip point, drop pint, trail points, and the other styles depending on how you want to use the knife.

The blade material that you pick also depends on how you intend to use the knife and also your budget and preferences,

Carbon steel and stainless steel are the two most common blade materials and each will have some merits and demerits.

Stainless steel blades like what you get on the MTech USA 13-inch Tactical Survival Hunting Knife offer high resistance to rust but they are not as sharp as carbon and are also more prone to staining. 

Carbon steel blades like ESEE RC5PBK-BRK, on the other hand, is sharper than stainless steel and easy to maintain the sharpness but they rust and discolor easily.

2. Handle

Many hunters will pay a lot of attention to the blade that they end up overlooking the handle. But, the handle is still a vital part of the knife as it will affect its performance.

A good handle should not only fit your hand well but should also be comfortable enough and provide a secure grip.

There are also various handle materials to pick from for your hunting knife with the most common ones being wood, bone, leather, micarta, G10, glass reinforced nylon and Kraton.

Each of these materials has some advantages and shortcomings. Understanding them is the only way to make sure that you choose the best. But, the simple rule is always to go for what you find most comfortable and feels the best in your hand.

3. Sheath

If you are going to buy a fixed blade hunting knife, you also need to think about the sheath. The sheath is your most important accessory when using a hunting knife.

Sheaths prevent accidental cuts, allow for easy access to the knife and also prevent your knife from getting damaged while also maintaining its sharp edge for longer.

When it comes to the sheath, the most important thing is to choose the right material and the three main options are leather, kydex, and nylon.

Leather sheaths like what you get on the Case 00379 are by far the best for hunting knives as they have an appealing traditional look and are also highly durable.

Kydex sheaths like what you get with ESEE RC5PBK-BRK are small and very convenient as the knife fits perfectly without the need for strapping it in place. Although they are still not as long lasting as leather, they are better than nylon.

4. Size

The size of your hunting knife matters as it will determine the ease and convenience of use, and also storage and transportation.

And contrary to what some hunters might assume, a good hunting knife should not always be large. Instead, you should always choose the knife size to suit the kind of animals you intend to hunt.

It is obvious that you need a big knife when hunting big game but the same knife might not be very useful when cleaning small animals like rabbits.

Also, note that big knives might provide a large cutting area but they also take more effort to maintain and are more tedious to carry. Hence, the right idea is always to get the size that will be most useful for you and not just to go for the largest blade.

5. Fixed vs. Folding Knife

Hunting knives will either have a fixed blade or folding blade design. Seasoned hunters seem to prefer the fixed blade knives while the new age hunters seem to like the convenience of the folding types.

While the best between the two depends on user preferences, there are a few things to keep in mind when picking between the two.

Fixed blade hunting knives are more durable as they do not have any movable mechanical parts and tend to have larger and heavy duty blades. The folding knives, on the other hand, are great for everyday use, versatile and easier to carry.

Conclusion

A hunting knife is a crucial hunting equipment for both professional hunters and outdoors enthusiasts, and finding the best hunting knife is now as simple as choosing one from the models reviewed above.

That said, the ESEE RC5PBK-BRK is our best overall models thanks to the high-quality high carbon steel blade that cuts well and maintains a sharp edge for long and the comfortable Mircarta handle.

The MTech USA 13-inch Tactical Survival Hunting Knife, on the other hand, is the perfect choice for you if you are shopping on a tight budget.


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