There are two features common to all knives — a handle and a blade. Beyond that, though, knives can get very specialized depending on their ultimate use. For example, so-called survival or camp knives typically feature large, stout blades meant to help get through common outdoor cutting tasks. “Everyday carry” or flipper knives are usually a bit more svelte, and are almost always foldable so they’re comfortable to carry in a pocket all day.
Hunting knives, as a general rule, have blades that are roughly 3.5 inches to 4.5 inches long. Anything much longer or much shorter might make the knife a bit difficult to control. Hunting knife handles are about 4 inches long, with a grippy texture for when things get messy while processing game. Blade material is similar to other types of knives, with steel formulations such as D2, M4, and Crucible Industries’ CPM series being very popular. Most modern steels can be sharpened relatively easily and can hold that edge for long enough to get through a hunt.
You don’t have to go far and wide to find the best hunting knife for you. We’ve rounded up here the most popular hunting knives to start this year.
Buck 656 Pursuit Pro
The 656 Pursuit Pro is a new design from industry stalwart Buck Knives. It features premium S35VN steel, which offers excellent edge retention and durability. A key feature that we like about this knife is the high-visibility orange handle. Hunts don’t always end in daylight hours, so being able to easily see and manage your knife after dark is a great safety feature.
Benchmade Hidden Canyon Hunter
Oregon-based Benchmade released the Hidden Canyon Hunter in 2020. Designed for multi-species versatility, it’s relatively compact – with a 2.79” blade and overall length of 6.42”. This, coupled with the deep drop-point, makes it easy to process anything from big game to upland birds. Benchmade’s highly researched SelectEdge 14-degree blade angle allows for very durable, very sharp edges.
CRKT Homefront Hunter
Folding knives have had a mixed reception with the hunting community. They’re easy to carry and compact, but have mechanisms that are vulnerable to getting gunked up while processing game. The Homefront Hunter from CRKT is a very worthy attempt to solve this issue. The included Field Strip technology makes it easy to disassemble (and reassemble) the knife without tools.
Cold Steel Finn Hawk
The Finn Hawk from Cold Steel is a newer knife based on an older design. With a blade made of easy-sharpening German 4116 stainless steel, it can handle whatever processing tasks you need it to. What we really like about this knife though is its simplicity. It’s devoid of any unneeded bells and whistles, perfect for the rugged dependability you need in the field.
The CR2.5 is a specialized hunting knife, ideal for small game and even fish. With an overall length of 6.25” and a narrow, thin design, it’s easy to maneuver for delicate tasks. It’s easy to customize at the factory, too. You can spec it with either Canvas Micarta or Orange G10 handles to suit your hunting style.
Gerber Exo-Mod Drop-Point
A member of the new Exo-Mod series of outdoor knives from Gerber, the Drop-Point is a hunting specialist. Gerber tried to maximize usability with this knife — and it’s evident in the skeletonized full-tang design, which reduces weight while keeping strength high. The sheath of this knife can be attached to the sheaths of other Exo-Mod knives and bone saws, allowing hunters to carry multiple tools together on their hip. This versatility and ease of use helps to reduce game processing time.
Gerber Vital Pocket Folding Knife
If you’ve ever done any heavier-duty work around your house, you’re probably familiar with the replaceable blades of a utility knife. When the blade you’re using gets dull, it’s easy to swap it out for a sharp one — then continue working. Gerber took a similar approach with its Vital folder. It features replaceable, scalpel-like blades that ensure you’re always cutting with the most precise edge. Included with the knife are 6 spare blades, and additional blades are available separately.
Morakniv Pro C
Hailing from Sweden, Morakniv has been designing and manufacturing knives since the 19th century. The Pro series is a fairly recent introduction, with the Pro-C being the most well-suited for hunting. It features a TPE rubber handle for a secure grip in all conditions. The carbon steel blade holds an edge well and is easy to re-sharpen. Most importantly, at a sub-$15 price point, a Pro-C won’t break the bank if you lose or damage it.
Opinel Colorama Series No. 8 Stainless Steel Folding Knife
Sometimes, the only hunting you’ll do is for that last log of soppressata in your picnic basket. The only slicing you’ll perform is on the triple-cream Brie that your partner likes so much. That’s not to say Opinel’s No. 8 Stainless Steel Folding Knife won’t excel at processing game – it absolutely will. However, a knife as classic and handsome as this one would be perfect for some of life’s finer pursuits as well.
Bobcat Knives Custom Handmade Hunting Knife
If you’re looking for a genuine hammered forged Damascus steel blade, you might want to consider this Bobcat hunting knife. It boasts a fixed blade with premium edge retention for longevity and durability plus a high-quality protective leather sheath with a snap fastener and belt loop for safety, convenience, and easy access. This knife is useful for various applications, such as camping, hunting, as well as survival and other outdoor situations.
Smith & Wesson Search & Rescue Knife
Gear up for any outdoor situation with the Smith & Wesson Search & Rescue Knife. The blade of this knife is crafted from 7Cr17 high carbon stainless steel that is powder-coated for anti-wear and anti-glare benefits. It comes with an aluminum rubberized handle for a secure grip, a ballistic sheath for carrying convenience, and a sharpening stone to keep the knife ready for any action.
Perkin Custom Handmade Damascus Hunting Knife
From slicing through thick bushes to maiming an animal, this Damascus steel knife from Perkin can handle it all well. It’s made with a fixed blade that’s balanced, strong, and stays sharper for longer. A high-grade handmade leather sheath and a sharpener are included in this set, which offer cut protection, preparedness, and easy access.
Cutco Gut Hook Hunting Knife
This Cutco hunting knife combines the function of a knife and a gut hook tool in one compact form. Its blade comes in two variants — straight edge and Double-D — both of which are great for skinning. The gut hook, on the other hand, offers precision for neat and effortless field dressing. The hunting knife comes complete with a sure-grip handle for superior control as well as a sheath and lanyard for added convenience.
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