Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Gerber, Benchmade, and more: Arm yourself with the 14 best hunting knives available

Need a new hunting knife? Take a look at this list and find the best one

Closeup of hunting fishing camping knife blade In campfire log In outdoor scene
Joshua / Adobe Stock

There are two features common to all knives — a handle and a blade. Beyond that, 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 tackle the most common outdoor cutting tasks. “Everyday carry” knives or versatile flipper knives are usually more svelte and foldable so they’re comfortable to carry in a pocket all day.

Even more specialized are hunting knives. As the name implies, they’re purpose-built for processing game meat after a kill. For that reason, hunting knife blades are roughly 3.5 to 4.5 inches long. Anything much longer or much shorter might make the knife a bit difficult to control. The handles are typically about 4 inches long, with a grippy texture for when things get messy while processing game.

The 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 steel blades can be sharpened relatively easily and the best hold that edge for long enough to get through hunt after hunt.

You don’t have to go far and wide to find the best hunting knives for you. We’ve rounded up here the most popular hunting knives available now.

Buck 656 Pursuit Pro Hunting Knife on a rock in the woods.
Buck Knives

The hunting knives you need to have

Buck Knives 656 Pursuit Pro Hunting Knife

The 656 Pursuit Pro is a fresh design from the industry stalwart Buck Knives. It features premium S35VN steel for 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 Steep Country Hunting Knife isolate on a white studio background.
Benchmade

Benchmade 15006 Steep Country

Designed for multi-species versatility, Oregon-based Benchmade’s Steep Country is relatively compact with a 3.54-inch blade and an overall length of 7.76 inches. This, coupled with the deep drop-point, makes it easy to process anything from big game to upland birds. The updated blade thickness and jimping location are also designed to ensure that every cut is effortless.

CRKT Homefront Aluminum Folding Pocket Knife isolated on a white background
CRKT

CRKT Homefront Hunter

The hunting community is polarized around folding knives — some love ’em, some hate ’em. They’re compact and easy to carry, but their mechanisms are vulnerable to getting gunked up while processing game. The Homefront Hunter from CRKT (Columbia River Knife & Tool) is a worthy attempt to solve this issue. The included Field Strip technology makes it easy to disassemble (and reassemble) the knife in the field without tools.

Cold Steel 20NPKZ Finn Hawk 4" Fixed Blade Knife isolated on a white studio background
Cold Steel

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 like about this hunting knife though is its simplicity. It’s devoid of unnecessary bells and whistles, perfect for the rugged dependability you need in the field.

The ESEE-4 Fixed-Blade Knife on a white studio background.
ESEE

ESEE-4 Fixed Blade Hunting Knife

ESEE has developed something of a cult following, thanks to the brand’s obsessive design skills and customer service. The ESEE-4 is one of its most popular knives with a perfect blend of cutting efficiency and overall thickness that make it ideal for a wide range of wilderness and survival tasks.

Gerber Exo-Mod Drop-Point isolated on a white background
Gerber

Gerber Exo-Mod Drop-Point

A member of Gerber’s Exo-Mod series of outdoor knives, the EXO-MOD Drop-Point is a hunting specialist. Gerber maximizes usability with this knife — and it’s evident in the skeletonized full-tang design, which reduces weight while keeping strength high. The sheath can be attached to the sheaths of other Exo-Mod knives and bone saws, allowing hunters to carry multiple tools together on their hips. This versatility and ease of use help to reduce game processing time.

Gerber Gear's Vital Pocket Folding Knife isolate on a studio background.
Gerber

Gerber Vital Pocket Folding Knife

If you’ve ever done 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 and immediately 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 six spare blades and additional blades are available separately.

Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife and sheath on a white background.
Morakniv

Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife

Hailing from Sweden, Morakniv has been designing and manufacturing knives since the 19th century. The Garberg is the company’s first full tang knife and it’s well-suited for hunting. The tough polyamide handle is impact-resistant and designed 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-$100 price point, a Garberg won’t break the bank if you lose or damage it.

BigCat Roar Handmade Wolverine Hunter Hunting Knife is durable, functional, and handsome.
BigCat Roar

BigCat Roar Handmade Wolverine Hunter Hunting Knife

Most hunting knives are durable and functional, but BigCat Roar elevates the knives in its catalog to be damn handsome too. These aren’t your typical pocket knives every man owns. The Wolverine Hunter is big, chunky, and built from hammer-forged Damascus steel to take a beating. Coupled with a solid walnut handle, it’s a beautiful design that feels heirloom-quality to boot.

Smith & Wesson Search & Rescue Fixed Blade Tactical Knife on a white background.
Smith & Wesson

Smith & Wesson Search & Rescue Knife

Gear up for any outdoor situation with the Smith & Wesson Search & Rescue Knife. The blade 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.

The Kershaw Camp 5 Fixed Blade Hunting Knife on a white background.
Kershaw

Kershaw Camp 5 Fixed Blade Hunting Knife

Kershaw’s Camp 5 Fixed-Blade is a thick, Bowie-style knife with a versatile blade that’s ideal for everything from camping and backpacking to survival and hunting. The handle is glass-filled with a solid grip so it stays put in your hand no matter the task. Plus, the included sheath is custom-molded for a perfect fit that keeps the knife in place even when worn upside down.

KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife on a white background.
KA-BAR

KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife

The KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion is a big, no-frills fixed-blade knife that’s built for just about any backcountry task. The full-tang design means it’s tough enough for everyday camp chores  (like chopping onions), splitting out kindling, or even skinning game. The included sheath keeps the knife secure with a thumb spot at the back that quick-releases with the right pressure.

Perkin Custom Handmade Damascus Hunting Knife and a sheath on a wood surface.
Perkin

Perkin Custom Handmade Damascus Hunting Knife

From slicing through thick bushes to field dressing an animal, this Damascus steel knife from Perkin can handle it all well. It’s made with a fixed blade that’s balanced and strong and it stays sharper for longer. A high-grade handmade leather sheath and a sharpener are included in this set, which offers cut protection, preparedness, and easy access.

Cutco Gut Hook Hunting Knife and sheath on a wood table.
Cutco

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 and a sheath and lanyard for added convenience.

Hands sharpening a knife using a whetstone beside a bowl of water on a wooden table
Nor Gal / Shutterstock

Proper hunting knife care

Hunting knives are just like any other tools and need to be maintained to work correctly. With proper maintenance, a high-quality hunting knife can serve you well for years of hunts. Sure, we all know knives need to be sharpened, but here are some other essential hunting knife maintenance tips to keep your blade in the best shape possible.

  • Clean the blade regularly – You should wash your knife after every use. Clean it under running water, but never let your knife soak in the sink. After cleaning the blade and the handle, make sure to dry everything thoroughly to avoid rust.
  • Lubricate the knife – Even if it doesn’t have moving parts, a knife needs to be lubricated to perform better and resist corrosion.
  • Dry storage – When you’re not using your hunting knife, make sure to store it in a cool, dry place that is free of humidity. If you’re going to store it for an extended period of time, don’t store it in the sheath. Wrap it in acid-free paper and put it in a plastic bag to stop mold and make sure it stays dry.
Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
A quick guide on how to clean hiking boots
Tips to ready your boots for the next outdoor adventure
Dirty, muddy hiking boots

No matter where you hike or what you hike in, one thing is for sure: Hiking boots are supposed to get dirty. Your new boots might look fresh and clean right out of the box, and after that, every scrape and stain may be a badge of honor. But that doesn't mean they should stay that way.

Follow the tips outlined below to keep your hiking boots clean, functional, and ready to hit the next trail.
How to clean your hiking boots

Read more
The 20 best U.S. national parks to explore now
There are a lot of national parks to see, so here's a list to start with
Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park

Soaring mountains, dune-covered deserts, glacial lakes, primeval forests, and red rock canyons set the stage for memorable adventures in splendid U.S. national parks — "America’s best idea," as filmmaker Ken Burns rightly described it. You could spend years exploring the countless wonders of these cherished reserves, but if time is limited, then focus your attention on the best of the best. Below is our admittedly subjective list of the top 20 parks, presenting a wide variety of landscapes and locales.
National Park Pass programs
Before we get into the list of U.S. national parks, let's cover how you can save money if you're going to be visiting several of America's best national parks. The National Park Pass is a program offered by the National Park Service that allows entrance to many federal recreation sites across the country. Depending on your needs, there are different types of passes to choose from.

Annual Pass: This pass costs $80 and is valid for one year at over 2,000 federal recreation sites managed by six different agencies, including the National Park Service. This is a good option if you plan on visiting several parks throughout the year.
Senior Pass: Citizens 62 and older can purchase a lifetime Senior Pass for $80. It grants the same access as the annual pass.
America the Beautiful Pass: This pass costs $80 and covers entrance fees for a single vehicle, including rentals and RVs, at national parks and federal recreational lands for 12 months.
Military Pass: Veterans get a free lifetime pass to national parks and other federal recreational lands. Here are some additional things to keep in mind about national park passes:

Read more
How to improve your cycling speed and ride like the wind
Tips to help make you faster on your bicycle
Person riding a bike fast

If there's one thing that cyclists of all levels want to improve upon, it's speed. Whether you want to keep up with a faster group ride, be able to pack more miles into the day, or simply want to cover more ground every time you go out, then it's time to consider how to improve cycling speed. With a few adjustments to your riding style and stance, as well as by adding in some training sessions from time to time, you can pedal faster in no time.
Ride aerodynamically

One of the easiest -- and most immediate -- ways to improve your cycling speed is to ride aerodynamically. To do this, you can start by pulling your arms in closer to your body. Make sure they are not fully extended and that your elbows are not poking out. So, bend your arms and pull the elbows in toward your sides. This will cut down on the amount of wind resistance you are fighting against.

Read more