Choosing the best hunting knife is all about understanding what game you’re after and what you need to do with it when you’ve got it.
Keeping in mind that a gutting knife is different from a field dressing knife will help you get in the right mindset. There’s no one-size-fits-all option. You need to understand the different types of hunting knives to make sure you have the right one for the job.
Based on decades of experience and hours of research, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide with the best hunting knives available.
The Best Hunting Knife – The Quick Answer
After researching and discussing, we’ve settled on the Gerber Vital Big Game as the best hunting knife in the world. It’s super easy to replace the blades, it’s safer than a lot of the competition, and the brilliantly sharp blade is designed for intricate cuts which is exactly what you want when preparing quality meat.
Reviews of the 6 Best Hunting Knives
Now let’s take a deep dive into our top choices. Go through each of these and decide which option makes the most sense for you.
1. Best Hunting Knife Overall- Gerber Vital Big Game
- Razor-sharp blade
- Comes with replacement blades
- Durable, holds in place nice
- Non-slip grip handle
- The handle makes it difficult to put in your pocket
This Gerber hunting knife uses a tool-less blade replacement that makes it easy to change the blade in seconds which results in a safer experience in the woods and less time changing out blades.
It’s an incredibly sharp blade ideal for big game with two drop point blades and a blunt tip blade. This type of versatility provides you with everything you need right when you need it.
The rubber grip handle helps you get a tight grip and maintain that grip throughout the whole process no matter what kind of mess you create.
This knife is wicked sharp and the replacement blades lock in nicely without any wiggle. The blade is long-lasting, durable, and high-quality. Overall, a heavy duty choice and the best deer gutting knife on the market today.
Who It’s Best For
The Gerber Hunting knife is the ideal choice for big game but it’s not too cumbersome for smaller game like rabbit and squirrel either. It’s ergonomic enough to work in tight spaces and the sharp blade helps you get a clean cut.
2. Best Deer Skinning Knife – Mossy Oak Survival Knife
- Stainless steel blade – durable
- Black anodized finish
- Serrated backside
- Full tang rubber handle for good grip
- Ideal for many different purposes
- Comes with a few extras
- Cannot withstand high impacts
- Fire starter is temperamental
This survival knife is a straight-up Rambo style fixed blade skinning knife. It is ideal for most purposes including deer and rabbit hunting, camping tasks, and general survival. It is 15 inches overall, with a 10-inch blade. If you want a big, bad, and fear-inspiring Bowie knife, just like Rambo himself, the Mossy Oak Survival Knife is a great place to start.
The Mossy Oak Survival Knife is made with 440c stainless steel, is 3.5 mm thick, and features a black anodized coating. The blade features a serrated edge on the backside, making it ideal for various sawing purposes.
The best skinning knives come with a comfortable and sturdy handle and this one does just that. It’s easy to hold, non-slip, comfortable, and won’t become a bother when you’re working with it.
The Mossy Oak Survival Knife comes with a sharpener and a fire starter, plus a nylon sheath.
Who It’s Best For
The Mossy Oak Survival Knife is a good choice to go with for all kinds of general survival needs. It does a fine job at cutting rope, working with fish, skinning, gutting, and field dressing.
3. Best Field Dressing Knife – Kershaw-Emerson CQC-11K
- Slim but large, easy to EDC
- Razor-sharp blade
- Sturdy pocket clip
- G-10 on the handle for traction
- Blade is a little thin which could impact longevity
This model debuted in 2018 to replace the featured Diskin Hunter knife. It has a 3.5-inch blade made with stainless steel. It’s in the ideal shape for hunting, skinning, and field dressing with a deep belly.
The knife folds easily for safety and it can easily slide in and out of your pocket or holster as you’re prepping. The scaled handle will provide you with an ample grip so you can hold it tight even when you’re working with blood and other fluid.
The best field dressing knife needs a sturdy back and durable frame and this one from Kershaw does the trick. These knives are addictive and they come at an affordable price so be careful!
Who It’s Best For
This is a great hunting skinning knife for field dressing and prepping tasks of all kinds. It’s large enough to help with gutting but also ergonomic enough for smaller and more precise jobs.
4. Best Drop Point Hunting Knife – Buck Ranger Skinner
- Ergonomic design
- Great handle with grip
- Corrosion-resistant stainless
- Brand reputation
- The finish leaves a little to be desired
Here we have a 3-1/8 drop point skinning knife that offers a blade perfectly optimized for skinning. It features a narrow tip with curved wide belly which allows you to work your way down into deep layers but it’s still light and gentle enough for precise cuts.
It offers a corrosion-resistant stainless steel blade with a downward angled point to help prevent you from slicing through the hide.
The ergonomic design is beautiful with an ebony handle and brass holster that fits perfectly onto your belt using the belt loop provided by the company.
Buck Knives has been in the game for more than 100 years and all their products are made in the USA so you know you’re getting the best of the best when it comes to attention to detail and quality assurance.
When you first get this knife you’ll be concerned over it’s size because it’s much smaller than in the pictures but it feels great in your hands and still has plenty of weight to it. It’s the best skinning knife of its kind.
Who It’s Best For
If you’re looking for an all around great skinning knife, this is the one. It’s not large enough for field dressing but if you want a dedicated skinning knife that won’t break the bank, this is your guy.
5. Best Knife for Gutting Deer – Gerber Randy Newberg DTS
- Tough tendon tool
- Two blade design
- Made with durable 440C steel
- Comes with a sheath
- It’s a bit bulky
If you know who Randy Newberg is, you’ll know where we’re going with this one. It’s a deer gutting knife and Randy brought his unbelievable experience to table when helping craft this Gerber hunting knife.
This is a very specific big-game knife with a few characteristics you’ll be hard-pressed to find in some of the other knives. It comes with two blades. The one is a 440C grade steel which is your cutting tool ideal for skinning and general prep.
The second blade which comes only on the DTS is a tendon tool made with ultra tough D2 steel. This blade allows you to use the more durable blade for tendons, bones, and hair which will preserve the main blade for delicate cutting.
Who It’s Best For
If you’re looking for an all-purpose hunting knife and the best one that will help you preserve the blade, go with it. The company has a solid reputation and although the knife is made in China, it’s still a durable option with some nice bonus features.
6. Best Fixed Blade Skinning Knife – Spyderco Moran Stainless Steel
- Ergonomic design
- Durable and comfortable handle
- Tapered drop-point blade
- Inspired by Bill Moran
- The handle is a bit undersized for the blade
This knife was inspired by Bill Moran who has more than five decades of experience designing and crafting the best. It’s a drop-point fixed blade knife and the blade runs all the way through the handle for added durability.
The knife features a large Kraton handle that helps you get a firm grasp when you’re working. It has a spongey feel that makes it easy to grip onto without feeling sticky when it’s covered with blood.
It has a tapered 3.87-inch VG-10 blade and it’s ergonomic design makes it easier for skinning and prepping. The overall shape and functionality is intended to reduce fatigue and make it easier for you to dress in the woods when you’re tired after a long day.
Who It’s Best For
This knife is best for people who may have limited mobility in their hands, wrists, and arms due to carpal tunnel or arthritis. The ergonomic design of the knife and handle make skinning a bit easier.
Choosing The Best Hunting Knives
If you’re in the market for hunting and skinning knives, you want to choose carefully. First, they’re not cheap. Second, it’s not always something you can really try before using it in the field.
If you find yourself in the woods with a crappy knife, it’s too late at that point. Now you have to struggle through and likely waste a lot of meat.
Here are some important considerations when shopping for the right field dressing knife.
One thing to look for is the blade style. Clip-point blades are good for most purposes, especially puncturing and cutting prey. Drop point blades are usually considered the better option for precision work.
Using a drop point hunting knife is what most of the experts would recommend because it is the best type of blade for handling a wider assortment of tasks. You can skin, gut, and prep all with one knife and a lot of them come with special attachments with tendons and heavier flesh.
Choosing a serrated hunting knife isn’t a bad idea either and a lot of knives will offer both. The blade length of your outdoor knife is also important.
Fixed or Folding Hunting Knife?
Ideally what you’re looking for in a blade is quality, craftsmanship, and design. You need something that is functional and that makes sense for the given situation. Keep in mind what you tend to hunt, what type of game you’re after, and your own individual skill.
Fixed blades (like the popular Mora Knife) tend to be bigger, stronger, and more versatile. However, they take up more space than folding knives, plus they tend to be heavier as well.
There’s also the factor of safety. A folding blade is nice because you know that you can hold it up and store it in your pocket or in a bag. With a fixed blade hunting knife, you’re not given that luxury and you’ll have to purchase a sheath if one doesn’t come with the knife you bought.
You need a good guard or pommel on your blade, such as with a Bowie knife. This helps to stop you cutting your fingers when the knife is wet and slippery.
Everyone loves talking about the materials used in making their knives but do they really understand what it means for the quality and performance of the blade?
Your blades metal composition and edge retention is critically important because it will determine how well it holds up against corrosion and ultimately, how long it continues to perform over time. Corrosion resistance is critically important for the longevity of your blade. We look for at least 420hc steel but you’ll see that most of the recommended knives above are closer to 440.
Blades cold steel with high carbon steel are the best choice because they’re durable, strong, they sharpen well, and they don’t wear down over time. If you find a blade with chromium or vanadium that is even better because they prevent corrosion and damage from abrasion.
You need a good handle on your hunting knife. The best hunting knives will have a full tang which means that the metal runs all the way through the handle. This feature provides added durability, strength, and control.
You need this especially with field dressing knives because you want to feel confident in what you’re doing and not have to worry about whether or not the knife is going to crack, break, or bend on you.
Using rubberized handles might work for small game but you need to make sure you have the right overall length and blade shape for boning and caping.
Hunting Knife FAQ
What is the best hunting knife in the world?
We can’t exactly speak for everyone and there are many different options to choose from based on what you’re looking for. While we recommend having an individual hunting knife for each purpose, the Gerber Vital Big Game is our favorite choice.
What is the best knife to gut a deer?
The Gerber Randy Newberg Knife is the best option for gutting deer because it comes with the two-piece blade and the tendon cutter/gut hook like the ka-bar as well. This allows you to preserve the sharpness of the regular blade without having to ruin it on hair and tendons.
Does being made of steel make a blade rustproof?
While steel is more resilient to rust and corrosion than other materials, it is still not 100% rustproof. Stainless steel blades are more or less rust proof, but not 100%.
For general purposes, what kind of knife is best?
If you’re just looking for an “everyday carry” type knife, we have been impressed with the quality/price of Civivi knives. However, when it comes to hunting, camping, survival, and general outdoor activities, you are probably best off going with a well-balanced and rounded Bowie style knife. The Benchmade brand or Amazon carries a lot of great knives as well.
Should I use a synthetic or leather sheath?
While leather sheaths are usually much more durable than synthetic ones, they tend to cause rusting and discoloration on blades when stored for a long period of time. You need to protect yourself against the sharp edge of quality knives as well. A good hunting knife will come with a durable sheath or lanyard.
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