If you are on the prowl for the best hunting knives in the world, you must understand that a hunting knife is just a tool, like any other and you should know exactly what you’ll be using it for. I hope you’re not thinking that hunting knives are actually used for hunting, that’s only happening in B-rated movies.

Getting the right tool for the job is not an easy task, so choosing a perfect hunting knife can be quite difficult. The key is to start researching your needs based on the best hunting knives.

So, you must get your facts straight:

  1. What type of hunting are you going to do? Big game, small game?

  2. Are you looking for getting yourself a trophy or you are a meat hunter?

  3. What is the biggest animal you think you’re going to hunt for? How about the smallest?

  4. Are you hunting on a regular basis?

  5. Do you want to carry the knife even if you’re not hunting?

It seems like a lot of questions to answer, but they are essential in selecting from the best hunting knives. A high quality knife, if maintained properly, will last you indefinitely, so you should choose carefully before spending you hard earned bucks. Depending on your budget, needs and personal preference, here comes what you need to know about the best hunting knives out there.

The Best Hunting Knives: Folders or Fixed Blades?

There are basically two types of knives in the world : the fixed blade and the folding ones. The fixed blade knives are the most common type; they are used for thousands of years, since they’re easy to build, they are rugged and much stronger than folding knives, due to their basic and reliable design. It’s a no brainer that a knife without moving parts and mechanisms will (almost) never break.

The best kind of fixed blade knife is the full tang variety, where the blade and the handle are forged from the same piece of steel. My personal preference when it comes to hunting is a high quality-stainless steel fixed blade knife. The fixed blade knives are very reliable in any situation, but they are harder to carry around, due to their sheer size and weight. Some of the best fixed-blade hunting knives are made by Falkniven,Buck, Kershaw,Case, Mora,Gerber etc.

If you’re not an avid hunter, you can go for a folding hunting knife but you must be extra careful in choosing a good one. The cheap folders are a waste of your time and money, they have poorly made/designed lock mechanisms which can fail you when needed most. And obviously, folding knives are fragile by design (at least most of them), but if you plan to use your knife on the occasional hunting trip, you can choose a high quality folder (Spyderco, Cold Steel, Ka-Bar have some great folders in their portfolio). A great advantage of folding knives is that they can be used on a multitude of tasks, not just for hunting and they are easy to carry around.

The Best Hunting Knives: Knife Size

Let’s talk about the ideal knife size. It all depends on what type of animal you’re hunting for. If you’re into big game, like elk or deer, you will need a fixed blade knife with two cutting edges : a regular one, razor sharp, used for skinning and the other one with a saw tooth, which comes handy when cutting through bone / firewood.

If you’re a small game hunter, like rabbits/quail, you can easily go for a pocket knife with a hook, this would be the best size/design for you.

If you go for “bigger is better” and you end up with Crocodile Dundee’s knife, you may find out, the hard way, that it’s not what you’re looking for. The hunting knife should be used for skinning game, not for digging holes or chopping wood, also easy enough to carry around. So pay attention when choosing the best hunting knife, you must be able to hold it and control it in any situation, especially for fine detail work.

The Best Hunting Knives: Steel Quality

Another issue when choosing a high quality knife is the kind of steel used in constructing it. This apparently simple feature will make the difference between a good knife and a low-quality one, regardless of design/price. A soft steel knife will be unable to retain a sharp edge when used intensively; another unpleasant situation occurs when a knife comes with a poorly designed angle of bevel, regardless of steel quality.

The blade must be resistant to corrosion, but also be durable yet flexible. If you go for a cheap hunting knife, you should be aware of the fact that they are using poor quality steels, which are brittle and they can snap off in cold temperatures when pushed hard.

Here are some examples of good steels to chose from:

  1. Vanadium Steel, this is a very strong steel which resists to rusting pretty well. It is fairly difficult to sharpen, but it will hold its edge indefinitely. One should look for the S30v imprint on the blade.

  2. Carbon steel is also a good choice for a hunting knife, but a tad brittle if compared to vanadium. It’s the ideal steel to be used in small knives, look out for the 154CM designation on the blade.

  3. Stainless steel, if high quality, it’s as good as carbon steel in terms of holding an edge, but it will never rust so it requires zero maintenance. You should opt for a VG-10 variety, but they tend to be really expensive.

  4. Medium carbon stainless steel makes for rust proof blades which tend to be brittle. Yet, they are easy to sharpen, this kind of steel makes for budget friendly hunting knives, designation 420HC on the blade.

The Best Hunting Knives: The Handle

Be aware that you will use your knife intensively when hunting; hence the quality of the handle is another important factor when you’re looking for the best hunting knives.

A good handle must have a finger stop, keeping your hand from sliding down to the blade and get you hurt. Also, the material used in the handle must provide excellent grip when soiled with blood/water, must be durable and yet light weight. The best materials to be used in a handle are ABS/Kraton. Stay away from leather/wood/bone handles, even if they look pretty cool. The design of the handle is also important, the knife should melt into your palm, you must feel it like an extension of your hand.

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