Every hunter needs a durable knife that will last. Choosing a hunting knife can be intimidating with so many options, specifications, and price points. When buying any knife you need to choose if you want fixed blade or folding, how long you want the blade to be, what material you want the blade made out of, the shape of the blade, the grind of the blade, the knife tang if you choose a fixed blade and the material and shape of the knife handle.
What Is the Hunting Knife?
The hunting knife I use is an Old Timer Schrade 1430t I got it from my grandfather. It is a fixed bladed knife with a gut hook. The blade length is 4.1 inches and it has a rubber handle that has a hole in it for a lanyard. It comes with a nylon sheath that has a belt loop. The blade material is high carbon steel and has a plain edge. The knife keeps its edge good and is durable.
What Type of Game are You Going to Hunt?
I enjoy hunting and hunt several different types of game rabbit, squirrel, turkey, deer, crow, dove, and raccoon. Having a hunting knife comes in handy every time. Whether needing to cut open a bag of corn for baiting deer, scraping hides, field dressing, and even butchering your kill. Your knife is just as important as bringing a gun or bow to hunt with. Thats why ill never go hunting without carrying a knife.
Which is the best for hunting fixed blade or folding blade?
A fixed blade knife is more durable than a folding blade but sometimes they are large, bulky and have to be attached to your belt or in your boot. But if you don’t mind having your knife attached to your belt then fixed blade has an advantage to folding blades because you are able to carry a longer bladed knife. A folding blade, on the other hand, is much smaller so they can easily fit in your pocket and not hang off of your body, but they are prone to folding up while in use. The durability factor of fixed blades is why I think they are better for hunting. It’s hard to chop with folding knives because they are too light and aren’t as sturdy. If you use your hunting knife for field dressing then a fixed blade knife also has an advantage because it does not have all the grooves in it like a folding knife you won’t get blood and dirt inside of it and it makes it a lot easier to clean.
Considering the Overall Length of the Hunting Knife
• Fixed: The overall length of a fixed bladed knife is almost always going to be longer than a folding knife because the handle and the blade are one solid piece. But the blade length can come in any length it is not confined to the length of the knife handle so you have more options depending on your preference of blade size.
• Folding: The overall length of a folding blade knife is shorter than fixed blades. When folded the knife is half its size and the blade cannot be longer than the handle of the knife because it is contained in the handle so this makes having long bladed folding knives hard if not impossible.
How to measure the blade length?
On a fixed bladed knife I start at the end of the handle right where the blade comes out and measure to the tip of the blade. On a folding knife, I measure from where the knife folds and measure to the tip of the blade.
• Small Blades: Small length fixed bladed knives are good because they do not take up as much room as larger ones they won’t be in the way as much as a medium or large sized fixed bladed knife. They are ideal for small cuts since they don’t have a large cutting area. You are able to use it for larger cuts but it will take more work than a bigger knife. If you use a small fixed bladed knife for skinning it would be best to use it on small game.
Small length folding knives are even smaller than small fixed bladed knives and they take up less space. Like small fixed bladed knives they have a small cutting area and are lightweight so they aren’t good for big jobs or chopping.
• Medium Blades: Medium sized fixed bladed knives take up more space and can be clunky on your side but these are more of a general purpose knife. These knives are good at cutting and chopping and will be good for skinning any size game.
Medium sized folding blade knives are good for people who do not want something large and in the way attached to their belt. They are good for slicing and skinning like a medium size fixed bladed knife. But folding blades aren’t as ideal for chopping.
• Large Blades: Large size fixed blades are quite big and can really get in the way. They do have a very large cutting area but can be too large and unwieldy. You can also have trouble using a large blade for skinning. Large blades are very good for chopping because of their weight and length.
Large folding blades can be in the way in your pocket but they are much smaller than large fixed blades. Like the fixed blades they will be good when used for slicing like if you are preparing meat or if you need to chop things. But they can be harder to control because of their size.
Choosing the Blade Material
Choosing the best blade material can be hard because there are so many options and the names are just a bunch of letters and numbers. The steel your knife is made out of can affect a lot it affects how easy or hard it is to get your knife sharp, how long the knife keeps its edge, it affects whether the blade will rust, how tough your knife will be, and how flexible you knife will be. When choosing your blade material you need to keep this in mind. There are plenty of different steel compositions and each one is unique and has its own abilities. Such as if the knife steel has a lot of carbon in it, it makes it tougher and holds its edge better. There are a lot of different elements that they mix with the steel though. They use carbon, chromium, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, tungsten, and vanadium. Each of these elements do different things and will affect the overall quality of the blade. My choice for blade material is carbon steel because it is tough and keeps its edge. There is also the option of getting a decorative metal like damascus steel it has hundreds of layers and makes it have a decorative pattern throughout the metal, but this decorative material does not have any benefits compared to regular steel.
Selecting the Blade Shape or Tip
The shape of your blade is important because it affects how the blade will cut and chop. There are several different styles of blades like drop point, trailing point, clip point, straight point, and tanto point.
• Drop Point: On a drop point knife the spine of the knife slopes from the handle to the point of the knife blade. This style of tip provides the knife with a stronger tip and adds more control. The drop point does not have as strong of a point of a clip point but it is much stronger.
• Trailing Point: On a trailing point knife the point of the knife curves up at the tip of the knife. Trailing point knives are good for slicing and skinning because they have such a large cutting area. Trailing points have a weak point and can also be hard to put into a sheath.
• Clip Point: On a clip point knife the spine is straight for most of the knife then getting closer to the end it curves downward and comes back up making a half circle shape. The back edge of a clip point is also sharpened. The clip point is good for stabbing and slicing because it has a large cutting area. The disadvantage of the clip point is that the point is weak.
• Straight Point: On a straight point knife the spine of the blade is completely straight but the blade of the knife curves upward to the spine. This knife is good for general purpose and has a strong point. It has a large cutting area and is good for both slicing and stabbing.
• Tanto Point: On a tanto point knife the blade and spine are straight and at the end the blade meets the spine at a sharp diagonal angle. These blades are not very good for slicing and the point is hard to control. The pros of this type of blade is that is has an extremely tough point and it’s good for stabbing.
Grinds on Hunting Knives
Grinds on hunting knives. There are plenty of different kinds of grinds you can get on your knife hollow grind, chisel grind, flat grind, convex grind, high flat grind, compound grind, v grind, and asymmetrical grind. Each of these grinds will determine how easy or hard it is to sharpen your blade and how well your knife will cut. A common grind used for hunting is the hollow grind it has a razor sharp edge but is susceptible to bending and chipping and can dull quickly. The reason this grind is used for hunting is because it is useful for skinning animals.
Selecting the Blade Edge
When selecting a blade edge you have three options plain or flat edge, serrated edge or saw toothed edge, or a combination of both half serrated half flat edge. Each edge has its own pros and cons and each edge is better at doing different tasks. Each edge also keeps its edge or sharpness differently.
• Plain Edge: A plain edge knife is completely uniform throughout the blade of the knife there aren’t any serrations on it. Plain edge knives are a lot better for clean cuts they also give you a lot better control of the knife. Plain edge knives will give you clean cuts with a lot more accuracy than a serrated blade and are best for push cuts and slicing. Plain edge knives work better for skinning animals shaving and peeling than serrated blades. Plain edge knives have to be sharpened more often than serrated edges. The cons of using a plain edge knife is that they aren’t good using in a sawing motion.
• Serrated or Saw-toothed Edge: A serrated or saw toothed edge has serrations going down the edge of the blade similar to a saw. These edges are good for almost everything but they won’t give you a clean cut if you are using it on meat or skinning an animal or fleshing a hide. The serrations will give the knife good grip when cutting through hard surfaces. Even when the edge is dull serrated edge knives can still cut but it is a lot harder to sharpen a serrated edge knife and is more time consuming.
• Combination or Partially Serrated Edge: Combination blades half serrated half plain edge gives you the benefits of both edge types. You can use the plain edge for skinning an animal, fleshing a hide, shaving and peeling. While you still have a serrated edge for tough cuts. The downsides to these types of blades is that you only have half the blade to make slices with and do not have a large cutting area, and when you sharpen the blade you have to sharpen the two different parts two different ways and it can be time consuming. But as long as you aren’t using this kind of blade for a lot of slicing it should be a good blade for most people.
Knife Tang For Fixed Blade
All fixed blade knives have a tang. What a tang is the metal from the blade that goes into the knife handle. The tang will ultimately determine how tough you knife will be and how easy it is to break. There are several different styles of tangs like full tang, partial tang, push tang, encapsulated tang, hidden tang, rat tail tang, tapered tang, skeletonized tang, and extended tang. A full tang, encapsulated tang, skeletonized tang, and extended tang are going to be the strongest because they take up all the space inside the handle. On the other hand a rat tail tang is very thin and could snap with force, or a push tang could fall out of the handle if too much force is applied.
Considering the Knife Handle
The knife handle can be made out of a variety of different materials and each one has its own advantages, Whether you want a decorative handle, a rugged handle, a non slip, handle or more there are all kinds of options. The handle of a knife can be made out of metal, wood, bone, pearl, leather, plastic,rubber, or even rope. Metal handles are strong and can be made out of many different kinds of metals. Metal handles are tough but can be slippery they can corrode be brittle scratch easily and not be very good looking. Wood handles aren’t as tough but can be more decorative they can cost more for rarer types of woods. Woods are pious though and if used in wet conditions it can ruin your handle. There is also wood handles with resin in them and they are very tough and not as susceptible to water and wear as regular wood. Bone handles can be expensive crack easy and be slippery but they are good looking. Pearl handles are mostly for decoration and are expensive. Leather plastic rubber and rope handles are cheaper but aren’t as durable as metal or wood.
All about the Knife Sheath
Knife sheaths are used generally for fixed bladed knives to protect the blade and the user. They come in different shapes and materials. Most sheaths are made out of leather nylon, or plastic and are attached to your belt. Leather is the most durable but is pious and can be hard to clean and dry rot. Nylon sheaths can also get dirty and be hard to clean because of all the separate threads. Plastic sheaths are the easiest to clean and do not wear as much as nylon and leather.
Care and Feeding of Hunting Knives
Care for your hunting knife. After finding your perfect knife you will want to make sure it lasts for years if not a lifetime. You will need to know how to clean, sharpen, store, and keep your knife from rusting or the handle from rotting. To clean your knife you need to use soap and water. You should avoid using harsh cleaners. If you have stains that won’t come off you should use vinegar salt and a cork. To sharpen you knife you have a lot of different options. You can use a traditional water or oil stone, a knife sharpener that your run the blade through. or a knife sharpening system they usually cost a lot more. You will want to carefully run the edge of the blade over the sharpening stone at the right angle it will take some practice to get right. When you aren’t using your knife your need to properly store. You should put oil on it and store it in a dry area if you have a leather sheath then you should remove it because it can cause your blade to rust. Lastly you will need to prevent you knife from rusting you can easily do this by oiling your blade and if you have a wood or leather handle you should oil it too.
If you are looking for the perfect hunting knife you should ultimately find something that will be comfortable in your hand, be able to perform the tasks you need it to do, and be strong enough to last you for years. My pick for a good hunting knife is a fixed bladed knife with a 6 inch drop point blade that has a full tang a wooden handle and a full flat grind with a plain edge. A knife with these specs will be durable and easy to sharpen and skin and flesh hides easily.