Knife

10 Best Skinning Knives of 2021: Fixed, Gut Hook & Folding

Best Skinning Knife

Photo: Old Timer

A skinning knife is a must-have tool if you want to go hunting and as the name suggests, it is used for separating the skin from meat on the game you’ve hunted down. Some knives can also be used to cut the animal into halves or quarters before cooking.

That said, you want a piece that is as versatile as possible so that you can skin, cut, and do other things when outdoors. To help you pick one, we have reviewed the best skinning knives in the market. Scroll down and have a look!  

10 Best Skinning Knives – Review

IMAGE

PRODUCT

FEATURES

Outdoor Edge WildLite

1. Outdoor Edge WildLite (Best Overall)

  • Complete 6-piece set
  • Full-tang 420J2 stainless steel blade
  • Heat-treated, taper-ground & hand-finished edges
Old Timer 15OT

2. Old Timer 15OT (Best Budget)

  • Economical
  • Durable high-carbon stainless-steel blade
  • Textured saw-cut Delrin handle slabs
Havalon Piranta-Edge

3. Havalon Piranta-Edge (Best Folding)

  • Compact 4.5-inch folding knife
  • Military-grade polymer handle with rubber inserts
  • 13 surgically sharp quick-change blades
Old Timer 152OT

4. Old Timer 152OT (Best Lightweight)

  • Lightweight (3.1 oz.)
  • Precise short-blade with a sharp clip point
  • Durable high-carbon stainless-steel construction
Bone Collector BC808

5. Bone Collector BC808 (Best Sturdy)

  • 1/8-inch thick blade
  • Hand-tooled custom-made leather sheath
  • Affordable
Victorinox VIC-40536

6. Victorinox VIC-40536 (Best Long-Blade)

  • 6.25-inch long blade for deep skinning & cutting
  • Lightweight & heat-treated stamped blade
  • Grippy black Fibrox handles
Gerber Gear 31-002218

7. Gerber Gear 31-002218 (Best 2-Piece Set)

  • Large gut-hook & small regular blade knives
  • Textured rubber handles with finger choils
  • Durable full-tang design
Old Timer 158OT

8. Old Timer 158OT (Durable)

  • Tough 7Cr17MoV high-carbon stainless-steel blade
  • Full tang design
  • Textured saw-cut Delrin handle slabs
Dexter-Russell SB12-6

9. Dexter-Russell SB12-6 (With a Temperature-Resistant Handle)

  • Temperature resistant white polypropylene handle
  • Impervious blade-to-handle seal
  • Stain-free, high-carbon steel blade
Victorinox VN40532

10. Victorinox VN40532 (With a Fibrox Handle)

  • Soft & textured Fibrox handle
  • Finger guard
  • Fixed 5.25-inch stainless-steel blade

PRODUCT

1. Outdoor Edge WildLite

(Best Overall)

Outdoor Edge WildLite
  • Complete 6-piece set
  • Full-tang 420J2 stainless steel blade
  • Heat-treated, taper-ground & hand-finished edges

2. Old Timer 15OT

(Best Budget)

Old Timer 15OT
  • Economical
  • Durable high-carbon stainless-steel blade
  • Textured saw-cut Delrin handle slabs

3. Havalon Piranta-Edge

(Best Folding)

Havalon Piranta-Edge
  • Compact 4.5-inch folding knife
  • Military-grade polymer handle with rubber inserts
  • 13 surgically sharp quick-change blades

4. Old Timer 152OT

(Best Lightweight)

Old Timer 152OT
  • Lightweight (3.1 oz.)
  • Precise short-blade with a sharp clip point
  • Durable high-carbon stainless-steel construction

5. Bone Collector BC808

(Best Sturdy)

Bone Collector BC808
  • 1/8-inch thick blade
  • Hand-tooled custom-made leather sheath
  • Affordable

6. Victorinox VIC-40536

(Best Long-Blade)

Victorinox VIC-40536
  • 6.25-inch long blade for deep skinning & cutting
  • Lightweight & heat-treated stamped blade
  • Grippy black Fibrox handles

7. Gerber Gear 31-002218

(Best 2-Piece Set)

Gerber Gear 31-002218
  • Large gut-hook & small regular blade knives
  • Textured rubber handles with finger choils
  • Durable full-tang design

8. Old Timer 158OT

(Durable)

Old Timer 158OT
  • Tough 7Cr17MoV high-carbon stainless-steel blade
  • Full tang design
  • Textured saw-cut Delrin handle slabs

9. Dexter-Russell SB12-6

(With a Temperature-Resistant Handle)

Dexter-Russell SB12-6
  • Temperature resistant white polypropylene handle
  • Impervious blade-to-handle seal
  • Stain-free, high-carbon steel blade

10. Victorinox VN40532

(With a Fibrox Handle)

Victorinox VN40532
  • Soft & textured Fibrox handle
  • Finger guard
  • Fixed 5.25-inch stainless-steel blade

1. Best Overall Skinning Knife: Outdoor Edge WildLite

Outdoor Edge WildLite

Photo: Outdoor Edge

  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 2.5, 4, 5 in.
  • Weight: 19 oz.

The Outdoor Edge WildLite is our best overall skinning knife because it has many features. To begin with, the product comes as a 6-piece set that gives you a complete field to freezer processing kit.

This comprises a 2.5-inch caping knife for detailed cutting with surgical precision, a 4-inch gut-hook knife for skinning, and a 5-inch boning/fillet knife for deboning while carving perfect steaks.   

The other 3 components include a 2-stage carbide/ceramic sharpener, game cleaning gloves, and a hard-side carrying case for storing all these pieces.

Each of the three knives has a full-tang 420J2 stainless steel blade that is heat-treated, taper ground, and hand-finished to create a sharp edge. This process ensures superior edge retention and continued sharpness. The knives are also perfectly balanced for easy holding.

Other features are blaze-orange handles that make the knives easily visible in the dark and these handles are rubberized with an embossed elk horn design for non-slip use. The only problem is that the set is quite heavy but you get all you need in one pack.

Pros:

  • Complete 6-piece set
  • Full-tang 420J2 stainless steel blade
  • Heat-treated, taper ground and hand-finished edges
  • Non-slip and highly visible blaze-orange handles
  • Perfectly balanced for easy use

Cons:

  • Heavy knife set

2. Best Budget Skinning Knife: Old Timer 15OT

Old Timer 15OT

Photo: Old Timer

  • Blade Material: Carbon Steel
  • Blade Length: 5.6 in.
  • Overall Length: 10.5 in.
  • Weight: 7.7 oz.

Old Timer’s 15OT is quite reasonably priced for the quality that you get and this includes a durable 5.6-inch long 7Cr17MoV high-carbon stainless-steel blade.

The blade’s full tang is held by saw-cut Delrin handle slabs, which are textured for non-slip holding, especially with blood and fat on your hand. Additionally, there is a finger choil on the blade to help you secure the knife firmly.

That said, the knife has an overall length of 10.5 inches and a tough leather belt sheath is included to help you secure all of it. It covers the whole blade and has an extension with a loop to hold the handle.

On the downside, the blade does not have a gut hook to slice open the game quickly and the handle is not brightly colored for easy spotting in the dark.

Pros:

  • Economical
  • Durable high-carbon stainless-steel blade
  • Textured saw-cut Delrin handle slabs
  • Finger choil for firm gripping
  • Comes with a leather belt sheath

Cons:

  • Lacks a gut hook
  • Dark-colored handle

3. Best Folding Skinning Knife: Havalon Piranta-Edge

Havalon Piranta-Edge

Photo: Havalon

  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 2.75 in.
  • Overall Length: 7.25 in.

If you prefer using a folding knife for skinning, we highly recommend Havalon’s Piranta-Edge. It has a short 2.75-inch blade that can be folded into the 4.5-inch handle, which makes it very compact when not in use.

This handle is made using military-grade polymer material with rubber grip inserts for firm gripping. It also has an orange color that is easily visible in the dark.

The knife comes with a total of 13 surgically sharp quick-change blades. 12 of these are spares and a blade remover is included to simplify the changing process.

More features include a black nylon holster and an open back for easy cleaning. However, the piece is very expensive and the blade does not have a gut hook.

Pros:

  • Compact folding knife
  • Military-grade polymer handle with rubber inserts
  • Comes with 13 surgically sharp quick-change blades
  • Open back for easy cleaning
  • Black nylon holster

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Lacks a gut hook

4. Best Lightweight Skinning Knife: Old Timer 152OT

Old Timer 152OT

Photo: Old Timer

  • Blade Material: Carbon Steel
  • Blade Length: 3.3 in.
  • Overall Length: 7.1 in.
  • Weight: 3.1 oz.

Weighing in at only 3.1 oz., Old Timer’s 152OT is the most lightweight skinning knife and this minimizes fatigue when skinning a large animal. The blade is relatively short (3.3-inches) for precision cutting and it has a sharp clip point for easy tearing into the skin.

That said, this blade is very durable because it is made using 7Cr17MoV high-carbon stainless-steel. It has a full tang that is held between saw-cut Delrin handle slabs, which have a textured surface for non-slip holding.

A brown leather belt sheath is included for safe carrying and this provides quick access to the knife. You also get a finger choil to help you secure it firmly using your index finger but the handle is not brightly colored for easy spotting in the dark. On top of this, it lacks a gut hook.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Short blade with a sharp clip point for precision cutting
  • Durable high-carbon stainless-steel blade
  • Grippy saw-cut Delrin handle slabs
  • Brown leather belt sheath

Cons:

  • Dark handle
  • No gut hook

5. Best Sturdy Skinning Knife: Bone Collector BC808

Bone Collector BC808

Photo: Bone Collector

  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 3.25 in.
  • Overall Length: 6.25 in.

Sturdiness is determined by the blade’s thickness and Bone Collector’s BC808 features a 1/8-inch thick stainless-steel blade. This can cut through skin and other hard surfaces without bending.

That said, this blade is 3.25 inches long, which is perfect for precision skinning, while the 3-inch long handle gives you enough holding surface area.

A hand-tooled custom-made leather sheath is included to keep the sharp blade safely covered and this can be mounted on the belt for easy access. The only issue is that the knife lacks a gut hook for slicing through the skin. However, it is very affordable to buy.

Pros:

  • 1/8-inch thick blade
  • Perfect length for precision skinning
  • Hand-tooled custom-made leather sheath
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Lacks a gut hook

6. Best Long-Blade Skinning Knife: Victorinox VIC-40536

Victorinox VIC-40536

Photo: Victorinox

  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 6.25 in.
  • Overall Length: 11 in.
  • Weight: 4.8 oz.

Victorinox’s VIC-40536 is characterized by a long 6.25-inch blade that is perfect for skinning large animals or making deep cuts when separating large chunks of meat.

This blade is made via the stamping process, which, according to The Spruce Eats, is lighter than the forged type and heat-treated to enhance durability. It weighs only 4.8 oz., which is quite lightweight for its size.

More features include grippy black Fibrox handles, a finger guard on the handle to protect your index finger, and a plastic sleeve packaging. However, the knife is quite expensive and it does not have a full tang for enhanced durability.

Pros:

  • Long blade for deep skinning and cutting
  • Lightweight and heat-treated stamped blade
  • Grippy black Fibrox handles
  • Protective finger guard

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Does not have a full tang

7. Best 2-Piece Skinning Knife Set: Gerber Gear 31-002218

Gerber Gear 31-002218

Photo: Gerber Gear

  • Overall Length: 8.63 in.
  • Weight: 7 oz.

This skinning knife comes as a versatile 2-piece set that has a large gut-hook fixed blade knife for tearing skin like a zipper and a small fixed blade for detailed work, caping, etc.

Both have textured rubber handles for firm gripping, which is further enhanced by finger choils for tight holding by the index finger.

The knives are very durable built because, apart from being fixed-blade types, they have a full tang. With this, they are deeply embedded into the handle and riveted to prevent separation.

You also get pommels with lanyard holes for attaching thread loops for hanging or other utilities, a glass bead-blade finish to reduce fingerprints and a nylon belt sheath with metal snaps for safely securing both knives on your waist.

On the downside, the set is relatively costly and the knives have black handles that are not easy to spot in the dark.  

Pros:

  • Large gut-hook and small regular blade knives
  • Textured rubber handles with finger choils
  • Durable full-tang design
  • Lanyard holes for attaching thread loops
  • Nylon belt sheath with metal snaps

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive
  • Dark-colored handle

8. Durable Skinning Knife: Old Timer 158OT

Old Timer 158OT

Photo: Old Timer

  • Blade Material: Carbon Steel
  • Blade Length: 3.5 in.
  • Overall Length: 7.3 in.
  • Weight: 3.3 oz.

Old Timer’s 158OT is very durably built because it has a tough 7Cr17MoV high-carbon stainless-steel blade. This blade has a full tang design that is deeply mounted into the handle and riveted to prevent separation.

That said, the handles are saw-cut Delrin slabs and have a textured non-slip surface. On the other end, the blade has a gut-hook that enables you to tear through the skin with ease.

A brown leather belt sheath is included in the set to help you secure the knife as well as give you quick and easy access when required.

Other benefits include non-slip holding due to the finger-choil security, a pocket-friendly price, and a lightweight design. The only issue is that the handle is not brightly colored. It cannot be easily spotted in the dark.

Pros:

  • Tough 7Cr17MoV high-carbon stainless-steel blade
  • Full tang design
  • Textured saw-cut Delrin handle slabs
  • Brown leather belt sheath
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Dark handle

9. Skinning Knife with a Temperature-Resistant Handle: Dexter-Russell SB12-6

Dexter-Russell SB12-6

Photo: Dexter-Russell

  • Blade Material: Carbon Steel
  • Blade Length: 6 in.
  • Overall Length: 11 in.
  • Weight: 4.8 oz.

The polypropylene handle in Dexter-Russell’s SB12-6 is built to withstand low and high temperatures, which means you can use it in all conditions. Additionally, the handle is textured for non-slip use and easy-to-clean.

An impervious blade-to-handle seal is fitted in to maintain high levels of hygiene by preventing dirt from penetrating through.

As for the blade, it is built using proprietary Dexsteel stain-free, high-carbon steel material. It is individually ground and honed to maintain maximum sharpness for quick skinning.

The knife is quite affordable and it has a white handle that is easy to spot in the dark. However, the knife is not ideal for precision cutting because it has a long 6-inch blade. On top of this, the blade lacks a finger choil for firm gripping.

Pros:

  • Temperature resistant white polypropylene handle
  • Non-slip and easy to clean
  • Impervious blade-to-handle seal for hygiene maintenance
  • Stain-free, high-carbon steel blade
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Not ideal for precision cutting
  • Lacks a finger choil

10. Skinning Knife with a Fibrox Handle: Victorinox VN40532

Victorinox VN40532

Photo: Victorinox

  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 5.25 in.
  • Weight: 4.64 oz.

The VN40532 is characterized by a Fibrox handle that has soft edges and a textured surface for non-slip skinning performance. This handle has a finger guard to keep your index finger protected as you slice through skin or meat.

A tough 5.25-inch stainless-steel blade is attached to this handle in a fixed design that makes it highly durable.

Even though a belt sheath is not included, you get a plastic sleeve for storing the knife after use. The main issue though is that the piece is quite expensive.

Pros:

  • Soft and textured Fibrox handle
  • Finger guard
  • Fixed 5.25-inch stainless-steel blade

Cons:

  • Costly
  • Does not come with a belt sheath

How to Buy the Best Skinning Knives

How to Buy the Best Skinning Knives

Photo: Old Timer

1. Knife Type

The Gut Hook

As the name suggests, this type has a hook as the tip that is specially designed to open the belly of a downed game. It simplifies the skinning process because it allows you to cut the skin open the rip it apart. That said, you can get fixed of folding gut hook knives.

Fixed Blade

Fixed blade knives have the blade permanently attached to the handle (without any movement). This makes them very firm and durable.

Folding Blade

Folding blade knives have a pivot that allows you to tuck the blade into the handle. This mechanism ensures you get a compact knife after use and it also conceals the sharp blade to prevent any accidental cuts.

However, this design has one major flaw. The pivot creates a weak point that makes the knife less sturdy as compared to the fixed-blade type.

Buying Guide: Whether it’s a fixed or folding type, we recommend that you get one with a gut hook tip because it is more versatile.

Alternatively, you can get a set that has multiple knives for different tasks. Remember, versatility is key and you need a knife that will still be practical after skinning (cutting meat and trimming it from bones). This is why we recommend Outdoor Edge’s WildLite.

2. Blade Styles

Drop Point

Drop point blades curve down the spine, toward the tip. This design gives you a broad cutting area plus more control over the knife’s movement. As such, it helps you to avoid puncturing membranes, especially around the game’s stomach.

These blades are great for general purpose use but are ideal for belly slicing and skinning because they are easy to control.

Trailing Point

Trailing point blades curve upwards along the spine as you head to the tip. As compared to a drop point knife, this design gives you a wider cutting area but the sharp high point might easily puncture soft internal organs. Therefore, they are not ideal for skinning the area around the belly.

Clip Point

This type has a straight spine that runs almost halfway across the blade then drops and rises towards the tip, creating the clip. Such knives are also easy to control but are better for piercing or stabbing.

3. Blade Design

Apart from the blade styles above, these parts also have different designs. Some have curved blades that are ideal for trimming fat off the skin and ribs or chopping a large piece of meat.

Curved tip blades are very similar to curved blades in terms of functionality, but they are more maneuverable and controllable.

On the other hand, straight blades are suitable for general purpose use in skinning or cutting meat into small pieces.  

4. Handle

Skinning knife handles are made using different materials such as wood, metal, plastics, etc. Whichever it is, ensure it fits perfectly in your palm and is comfortable to hold. This might require you to try out a couple of them until you get the right fit.

You should also ensure that it has a non-slip surface because you will be dealing with blood and fat when skinning.

That said, Dexter-Russell’s SB12-6 stands out because it has a non-slip temperature-resistant handle that is very durable. It is also easy-to-clean and has an impervious seal from the blade for hygiene purposes. Check it out.

Note: Another point worth mentioning is that we recommend getting a knife with a brightly-colored handle to spot the knife in the dark easily.

5. Sheath

A sheath is a close-fitting cover for the knife. This is a must-have accessory if you are buying a fixed-blade knife because it helps to conceal the sharp edge, which can cause serious injuries.

Belt sheaths are also very convenient because they help to keep the knife on the waistline for easy access.

6. Durability

This is usually determined by the blade’s material, in which carbon steel and stainless steel are the most common. Thickness also plays a crucial role in this and the thicker the blade, the sturdier it is.

We also highly recommend full tang blades because these are firmly fixed into the handle to prevent separation. This ensures you get a long service life from the knife.

Conclusion

It is quite clear that Outdoor Edge’s WildLite is the overall best skinning knife. It comes as a 6-piece set containing 3 versatile knives, a 2-stage sharpener, game cleaning gloves, and a carrying case to hold them for easy transportation.

If this is too much for you, check out the 2-piece Gerber Gear 31-002218. It contains a large gut-hook and a small regular blade knife, which are enough to clean your game.

However, if you prefer a folding knife, we recommend Havalon’s Piranta-Edge. It has a military-grade handle and comes with 13 quick-change blades (12 are spares).

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