Hunting Knives

A knife is an essential piece of deer hunting equipment.

Knives are needed for field dressing, skinning, removing meat, cutting open the packaging for other equipment, etc.

There are many uses for knives and essentially infinite knife options. Lots of knives are cool and interesting. You can always make up an excuse to get another knife. I always keep one in my car as an emergency tool. I also carry a small spare in my camouflage pants. A pocketknife was always carried by our grandfathers and you might be surprised at how often a pocket knife is useful when you carry one around. I also keep a knife in my bow case, because I can.

What sort of knife should you get for deer hunting?

My uncle, who is more knowledgeable on the subject than I am, doesn’t care what knife he uses so long as it is sharp.

Knives made out of poor metal will not hold a sharp edge for long and are more dangerous than knives made out of quality metals.

I’m afraid that I don’t know which knives are made out of quality metals and which ones are not. I do know that if you get a knife made by a brand like: Buck, Gerber, Kershaw, or SOG then you will likely have a quality knife, even if you paid little for it.

Your deer hunting knife should have a blade around 3-4″ long. A shorter blade will mean that you will be required to do more work in any cutting job. Smaller blades will also be more likely to break than bigger ones.

You don’t want a blade that is too much bigger than 3-4″ because one job your hunting knife will do is to field dress a deer. Field dressing requires having the whole knife inside of the chest of the deer. A really big knife will be too big to be maneuverable.

The height of the blade and the shape of the blade make certain jobs easier or harder. To fillet fish you want a long thin blade, and to field dress deer I quite like the thick and tall blade on my knife. I don’t know much more than that about blade shapes. I say: knives are cool and cheap, buy a bunch and try them all to find the one that you like best.

There is really only one important decision that you need to make: fixed or folding.

A folding Buck model 110 is the standard deer hunting knife and it has been used for decades. I used one for about ten years, and my dad has used one, or another, for all of his hunting life. Folding knives are good because they can be folded into a small item without an exposed blade and without need of a sheath. A folding knife can be slipped into any pocket and you should get one at least as your backup.

Any time I hear from, or read, a knife expert they point to the ease of carry you get with a folding knife, but they invariably prefer fixed blades. A fixed blade knife is sturdier and stronger than any folding knife can be. The first time I field dressed a deer with a fixed blade knife I was very much impressed with how much easier it was to work with. The big disadvantage of a fixed blade knife is that it requires a sheath; without one you are carrying an exposed blade. If you get a fixed blade knife, then there is no point in getting anything other than one with a full tang. Full tang knives are just all around better than partial tang knives.

So what you want for your hunting knife is a quality knife, with a 3-4″ blade, and preferably a fixed blade model. You should also have a spare, at least in your car, because knives do break and they can get dirty when you need a clean one. I recommend getting a fixed blade knife for your main use and a folder to keep as a spare.

Where do you get your knife? is always good for buying stuff.

Another place that you might look is Smokey Mountain Knife Works. They have all sorts of knives at all sorts of prices.

Expect to spend $10-200 on a hunting knife.

The standard Buck Model 110 Folding Hunter costs $47 and is always a good choice.


I am currently using a Rough Rider Wood Hunter. Its very cheap at $11, but I have zero complaints after using it on around six deer so far. I quite like it.


Smokey Mountain Knife Works is good just for looking at all of the weird knives too. Why would someone buy a knife like this:



4 comments on “Hunting Knives

  1. Wirecutter says:

    I always get a laugh when I see a hunter carrying a “skinning” knife that’s got a blade on it longer than his foot.
    I use a 2″ blade when skinning a coyote and nothing bigger than 3 1/2″ for anything else. Skinning is 90% tugging and pulling and 10% cutting.

  2. In survival products knives are the best. razor sharp hunting knives, bushcraft knives must have to survive

  3. Tara says:

    I love my bushcraft – though I would just note that really a hatchet or small ax would be my #1 in survival – there are certain things you simply can’t do if you only have a knife.

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