Best Hunting Knives 2016 – Ultimate Buying Guide

For people who are fond of the outdoors, whether it is camping, hunting, fishing or similar activities, the best hunting knife is an essential tool to bring along on your trip.

A good quality knife will also serve as your all-around tool when you need to prepare your food, chop some firewood, and basically just anything you to expect during hunting and spending time in the woods.

So, be sure to buy the right type of knife that meets your standards, which must be equipped with outstanding features typical in the best cutting tool.

Check out this guide on how to buy a good hunting knife including some recommended products to help you make an informed decision.

Top 5 Best Rated Hunting Knives

These hunting knife reviews offer insights on the different features, benefits and limitations of each product. Read along and choose the best hunting knife based on your specific preferences and needs.

  • Ontario 6504 OKC3S Marine Bayonet (Brown)
  • Our Rating
  • Type:Fixed
  • Product Dimensions:
    14.8 x 3 x 2 inches ; 1.5 pounds
  • FREE Shipping
  • Price:$$
  • Spyderco Sage Carbon Fiber Plain Edge Knife
  • Our Rating
  • Type:Folding
  • Product Dimensions:
    6.5 x 2.5 x 1 inches ; 3.2 ounces
  • FREE Shipping
  • Price:$$$
  • Buck Knives 0119 Special Fixed Blade Knife with Leather Sheath
  • Our Rating
  • Type:Fixed
  • Product Dimensions:
    11.2 x 2.8 x 2.2 inches ; 10.6 ounces
  • FREE Shipping
  • Price:$$
  • Ontario Black Bird SK-5 Knife w/ Sheath
  • Our Rating
  • Type:Fixed
  • Product Dimensions:
    8 x 4 x 2 inches ; 11.2 ounces
  • FREE Shipping
  • Price:$$
  • Spyderco ParaMilitary2 G-10 Plain Edge Knife
  • Our Rating
  • Type:Folding
  • Product Dimensions:
    6.5 x 2.5 x 1 inches ; 3.7 ounces
  • FREE Shipping
  • Price:$$$

#1. Ontario 6504 OKC3S Marine Bayonet (Brown)

One of the best hunting knives in the market, the Ontario Marine Bayonet should be an item that offers the best value for your money. Among the great features of this product are the following:

  • Zinc Phosphate for the blade finish to ensure optimum durability
  • 1095 carbon steel blade
  • Length of blade is at 8 inches and with a thickness of 0.2 inch (perfect for hunting purposes)
  • Brown-colored handle
  • Includes a tan sheath made of Hytrel, also MOLLE compatible
  • Made in the U.S.A.

The Ontario Knife Company has built its solid reputation for years as the premier supplier of cutlery worldwide. In terms of exceptional materials, design and craftsmanship, the brand stand by its promise to deliver total satisfaction to customers. This knife, for instance, is renowned for its durability, sturdiness and outstanding performance, which makes it a primary choice of the U.S Marine Corps. In fact, the blade is made of industry-standard carbon steel material with the right thickness. The Dynaflex handle fits perfectly on your hand for enhanced comfort, thanks to its remarkable ergonomics.

Going back to the blade, it has a partially serrated design and comes with 1.75 mission serration for maximum sharpness. The bayonet is also kept secure, all because of the stainless spring friction inside. The honing rod is coated with ceramic material, and it is found on the back portion of the scabbard. Lastly, its nylon sheath is glass-filled for that unbeatable durability.

Pros:

  • Sharpened edges on both sides
    What makes this a good hunting knife is the fact that both edges have sharp edges, unlike in the case of some knives with an upper edge that remains unsharpened. In fact, from the top edge of this knife has been sharpened at least 3 inches all the way to the back from its tip. Since this qualfies for a double-edged knife, it is best that you check with your state, town or city law to make sure it is legal for you to carry this tool around.
  • Strong and tough blade  
    The blade is made of 1095 carbon steel, which gives it that remarkable strength. You can even use it for prying, yet not run the risk of breaking or snapping the blade. So, toughness is not even a question for this hunting knife considering the material it is made of.
  • Equipped with essential accessories
    Aside from having yourself an exceptional knife, this product comes with a sharpening rod made of ceramic, plus a sheath. This tool is useful for field sharpening, and it keeps your knife ready for use anytime, anywhere.

Cons:

  •  Susceptible to rust
    The less-than-perfect quality of 1095 carbon steel is its lack of alloys (specifically chromium) added to the material. Hence, exposure to moisture can lead to rust, since the blade is not made of stainless steel. However, you can prevent this issue by applying some oil on the blade, but be sure to avoid having lubricants on the handle – or you will have a hard time holding the knife steadily without slipping off your grip.
  • The material used on the blade will not hold an edge too long
    As compared to harder types of steel, the material used on the blade will not hold an edge longer. Nevertheless, the 1095 carbon steel is a bit softer, and this will give you an easier time sharpening the blade.
After looking at the pros and cons, you will realize that the benefits still outweigh the limitations. It is only a matter of determining if the blade length, thickness and overall features of this knife suit your specific needs.

#2. Spyderco Sage Carbon Fiber Plain Edge Knife


Made with the outdoorsman in mind, this good hunting knife by Spyderco may be worth considering when you are in the market for a cutting tool to bring on your camping or hunting trip. Below are some of the specs of this product:

  • Folding knife
  • Blade is made of CPF-S30V steel
  • Carbon fiber (twill-woven) material for the handle
  • Great ergonomics for ease in handling
  • LinerLock folding with a pocket clip of silhouette wire
  • When closed, knife measures 4- 3/16 inches in length
  • Lightweight, yet solid (3.2 ounces in weight)

Spyderco is known for its innovative design in knives, which allows users to open folding knives with just one hand. In particular, this knife features serrations on its folder, and you can simply secure this tool in your pocket with a clip that comes with it. This is what sets this Spyderco knife from its competitors in the market since its ergonomic design and functionality both add to the outstanding user experience you can expect from this product.

Sharpness of the blade is maintain using the company’s very own CATRA machine, which helps determine edge retention. Rust development and amount of force required to close and open the knife are also assessed carefully during the manufacturing of this product. So, once you find these knives in stores, you can be sure that the overall quality has passed strict standards from the design process to manufacturing and the moment it reaches your doorstep.

Pros:

  • Superior finish
    The finish is non-reflective and elegant, at the same time. You will appreciate the fact that just by the physical appearance of this knife, you can tell that it is bound to last for a number of years.
  • Very sharp blade
    The knife has gone through a long series of process to make sure the blade is sharp enough to meet your expectations. The material used is a hard type of steel that holds edges longer, which makes it highly functional even when you fail to sharpen it frequently.
  • Blade stays tight and secure
    Whether you open or close this folding the knife, the blade remains perfectly tight. There is no movement or looseness when you use the knife, and this gives you the assurance that it is just as solid as you want it to be.

Cons:

  • Non-beveled edge of the opening
    For some users, it may take some time to get used to the non-beveled feature of the opening hole’s edging. Those who are not familiar with this design may need to experiment on how to get the knife close and open smoothly.
  • Shorter blade
    If you are more particular about hunting knives with a longer blade, then this product may not fit the bill. The blade length is not that long, yet it is sharp enough to do the job right.

For a reliable pocket knife that will last for years, this product is a great option. Its ultra-sharp blade will never disappoint you, and it fits tightly to ensure you of a precise and solid cut.

#3. Buck Knives 0119 Special Fixed Blade Knife with Leather Sheath


Making its way in these hunting knife reviews, Buck has proven itself yet again of its remarkable quality that makes it one of the leading brands in the cutlery industry. This fixed blade hunting knife has these outstanding features:

  • Length of knife is at 10-1/2 inches
  • Weighs 7.5 ounces
  • Comes with a sheath made of genuine leather
  • Handle material is Cocobola Dymondwood, equipped with solid brass pommel
  • Clip blade made of 6-inc 420 HC steel
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in the U.S.A

Buck stands by its name when it designed and created this top-selling hunting knife that is perfect for a number of purposes. Known as a utilitarian and solid knife, you can expect this product to last for several decades. Although it may seem a bit too long or big for some, its overall design is simply what a classic hunting knife exudes. The leather sheath is also thick and durable, and it keeps your knife safe and secure from harsh external elements.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
    For a knife this big, you will like how relatively lightweight it is at 7.5 ounces. This makes it hassle-free for you to carry the knife around with you whenever you go outdoors. Just pack it in your backpack while having the knife securely nestled in its sheath.
  • Built to last
    Several product users rave about the durability of this knife – from the blade to its sheath. In fact, there are some people who have owned this knife for 40 years (and counting), so you can expect total satisfaction from your purchase that will stand the test of time.

Cons:

  • Wear marks caused by the rivets in the sheath
    The sheath comes with two rivets that hold the belt loop. Unfortunately, the top rivet tends to rub against the handle, which can leave a wear mark on this part. To solve this problem, though, you can remove this rivet and use a small piece of leather lace.
  • Rough ground edge on the blade
    Although the blade is perfectly sharp and solid, the rough edge can be a bit of a concern. You can polish the edge by using emery, stones and diamond-sharpener. This way, you will no longer have to deal with the roughness of the edge.

After looking into both positive and negative aspects of this product, you can still say that it gives a bang on the buck. With a solid and sturdy quality that you can vouch on for years, this hunting knife is a practical investment worth making.

#4. Ontario Black Bird SK-5 Knife w/ Sheath


Another hunting knife by Ontario makes it to this list of highly recommended cutting knives for your outdoors expedition. It is made of 154 CM high quality steel, which is renowned for its top-of-the-line toughness, sharpness and ability to resist corrosion. Although it may appear simple and basic for a hunting knife, this product will not disappoint because of its functionality and ease of use. Key features of the knife include the following:

  • Plain edge blade measuring 5 inches
  • Total length of the knife is 10 inches (open) or 4.06 inches (closed)
  • Blade made of 154 CM steel
  • Made in the U.S.A
  • Comfortable and firm grip

The SK-5 Blackbird by Ontario was the brainchild of the designer Paul Sheiter. His main purpose when he came up with the design was to keep it simple, yet functional and solid at the same time. Hence, this product came to be, which is exactly what the designer had in mind. With a 0.13-inch thick blade that comes with a full-taper grind, this knife does well in various outdoor tasks that require a dependable cutting tool. Moreover, the knife tang keeps the handle stable and secure, as it is held with stainless steel and note-worthy Allen screws. With a MOLLE compatible sheath equipped with a belt loop that comes with this product, you are ready to go on your trip with this excellent hunting knife.

Pros:

  • Ultra-sharp blade
    As this product is made for hunting and outdoor purposes, you will be pleased to find the remarkable sharpness of the blade. It is made of the finest material that is corrosion-resistant, easy to maintain and naturally sharp for all your cutting needs.
  • Good quality sheath
    The sheath is quite impressive as it is compact and light. Made of durable material, it is capable of keeping your knife secure and well-protected from harsh elements. It can even drain water efficiently, which prevents moisture from getting into the blade.

Cons:

  • As far as customer reviews are concerned, there is only one aspect about this knife that may qualify as a limitation (although it does not apply in everyone’s case). The knife is a bit large, which makes it slightly heavier than your regular cutting tool. Nevertheless, it is just what you need when it comes to performing a wide range of functions when you go hiking, hunting, fishing or camping. In the end, the size may not matter for the numerous purposes this tool serves.

If you are more interested in a highly functional, solid and large knife for your trip to the outdoors, this product is highly recommended. It does the job as it should, the sheath is durable, and the blade is beyond spectacular.

#5. Spyderco ParaMilitary2 G-10 Plain Edge Knife


Spyderco does it again when it comes to outstanding quality cutlery for the outdoors. The Para Military knife stands by its name, as it is built for tough conditions. As compared to the original Military, this product is two-thirds the size, and it is made of CPM-S30V hard steel for the blade. What’s more, there is a 14-mm round hole that is suitable for people with larger hands, or those who prefer to use the knife with gloves on. Other features of this product include:

  • Stainless steel liners for the handle
  • Flat-ground blade made of S30V steel
  • Blade locks come with a black shade, which is DLC-coated
  • Ergonomic design for the handle
  • Easy to carry and highly accessible

This great quality knife by Spyderco comes with an impressive and compact package that makes it easy to bring for your trip. The blade is thick and sharp, made of S30V hard steel and indexed round hole at 14 millimeters for people with larger hands. You will haver no problem holding or having a firm grip on the handle because of the ergonomic curves it comes with. Thus, you can expect optimum control while holding the knife, which ensures you of precision and accurary when you cut items with this tool. For your convenience, the knife has a pocket clip made of steel. So, you can carry the knife with you on a tip-down manner for quick accessibility.

Pros:

  • Easy to flip the knife open
    As you get used to the knife, you will notice that it is no longer requires much of an effort to open it when you need to use this tool. This ease in opening, as well as in closing, the knife enhances user experience because there is no hassle when the time comes for you to start cutting a range of items with this tool.
  • Perfect length of blade
    For an every-day knife, this product is just what you need with its blade length a little over 3.5 inches. This should be enough to use for cutting without feeling intimidated about using a large knife for your outdoor adventures.
  • Razor-sharp blade
    The blade is made of CPM-S30V industry-standard steel, and this can cut through various items with outstanding precision. To keep the blade well-maintained and ready to use all the time, you can simply use the sharpening stone, which polishes the edges up quickly.

Cons:

  • There is just one concern that some users have experienced with this knife, in spite of its apparent functionality and performance. Mainly, it is the fact that this knife is not too easy to hook up to your pants pocket, as compared to what you may experience with other knives in this review. There is friction with the G10 and the pocket clip, and that makes it somewhat tough to secure the knife on your jeans pocket. The best technique to fix this minor issue is by sanding down and removing the part of the G10 that gets in the way.

With superior quality of blade, compact design, steady grip and functionality of the knife, this tool is a must-have for your trip to the outdoors.

How to Choose the Best Hunting Knife

As you go about searching for the best hunting knife to buy for you personal needs, you may find yourself overwhelmed with a number of options available in stores. In fact, there are various models of this type of knife, and it can get somewhat confusing to determine the one you should buy. If you are at this point of not knowing the right hunting knife to buy, then this practical guide should offer you useful and reliable tips to find out which item to purchase for your specific concerns.

Getting Down to the Basics

Naturally, you should first decide on a budget when it comes to shopping for a knife. For a basic cutlery used for outdoor purposes, you can get one for a cheap price of about $50 to $65. However, if you are more keen on buying something with top-notch quality, then you may be better off with pricier knives with a price range of $100 to even $1000 in some cases. Still, there is no need to go beyond your budget if what you want is a quality knife. The most important thing is you know key features to consider, which should be more than enough when you want total satisfaction for your purchase.

A basic hunting knife set is useful for its standard purpose, which is to skin the animal or dress the game. With this in mind, you need a durable knife that can withstand abuse. What’s more, a big knife does not necessarily mean it is always the best option. For instance, if you are supposed to dress a small game such as a rabbit, then it can be tough using a large knife for this animal. To stay on the safe side, you should be good with a blade length of about 4 inches. This is, of course, unless you are hunting much bigger animals that require larger cutting tools.

Now that you know these practical things to start with before you go shopping for a hunting knife, you are all set in going through various features to take into account to get the best value for every dollar you pay.

Types to Choose From

A hunting knife comes with two different types. You can find either a folding or fixed blade knife, and your choice depends on the features you need. Here are some important details about each type.

1. Folding Knife
In terms of versatility, a folding knife is a better choice simply because of the fact that it is more lightweight and much easier to bring along (just secure it in your jeans pocket). However, you have to realize some aspects to keep in mind if this is the type of knife you wish to buy. A cheaper brand or model is NOT the best way to go since you are basically just throwing away your money since the product will never last a long time. Consider the company behind the product, and it must be one that is known for its range of cutlery spanning decades of exceptional quality.

In addition, the blade must be thick enough to ensure durability, and the handle must be easy to grip. It is also important that the lock-back is strong to keep the blade secure when the knife is closed. Lastly, choose a folding knife with a partially serrated blade, since you can count on this tool for precision cutting through an animal’s tendons and cartilage.

2. Fixed Blade
Most hunters go for fixed blade knives because of the stronger and more reliable quality of blades. This knife also comes with a more solid blade, which is perfect for tough and heavy duty tasks that a folder may not accomplish. Just be sure to buy a knife with lightweight and durable blade that is corrosion-resistant and easy to sharpen. This way, you will find no problem in using the knife for several purposes while keeping it in excellent condition all the time.

Blade Material and Quality

-There are different materials used on hunting knives, and this aspect makes a huge difference to your overall satisfaction and level of comfort in using the tool. Regardless of the material, though, it is a wise choice to opt for a full tang design for the blade since this is considered as more solid. With a full tang, this means the blade and the handle are constructed from a continuous and single piece of steel. When used correctly, you can expect a knife with this blade design to last for years since it is relatively much stronger than partial tang ones.

-As for the blade material, you can come across blades made of either stainless or carbon steel. If you are looking for something more expensive, however, carbon stainless steel is also available – and this should provide more benefits you can expect from a hunting knife.

-Knives made of carbon steel are easier to sharpen, rugged, and more inexpensive. While this material is susceptible to rust, you can prevent this issue through proper maintenance such as by putting some wax with silicon component over the blade. As you can see, carbon steel knives are high maintenance tools, but the fact that you can sharpen them easily (plus they are cheaper) should balance the scales out.

-Stainless steel, as the name suggests, is corrosion-resistant. Sure, sharpening this type of blade may not be that easy, and you may have some trouble with the fact that it does not hold an edge too long. However, you will have no problem with the maintenance because oiling the blade is no longer necessary.

Knife Handle

-For comfortable handling and steady grip on the knife, choose a handle that helps you meet all these goals. You need to look for a handle that can keep the grip nice and firm even when your hand is wet, and be sure the material holds up well even when exposed in humid or harsh conditions. Leather material for the handle may look elegant and dressy, but it is most likely to deteriorate easily. Wooden and bone handles are not great options, as well, since these can get slippery once wet.

-So, you are better off with nylon, polymer or other similar synthetic materials for the handle. Just make it a point to have a feel of the handle first before you decide to purchase a knife. You should experience comfort while holding it, and the handle should feel heavy, solid and strong.

Blade Designs

-Years back, you can only find a regular blade design for a hunting knife. However, things have changed, and there are now different styles to choose from. For small punctures, clip-point blade is suitable to use because of its fine point with a concave design for the back, which comes in handy for cutting around the animal’s anus for removing the rectum.

-Although a drop-point blade is also useful for making finer punctures, the convex back prevents it from going too deep from the top to the bottom. This blade design is perfect for skinning, and you can prevent puncturing the hide.

-Othe blade designs available include the spey, sheepsfoot and pen. For skinning purposes, the spey blade is excellent to use. You cannot count on this, though, when your intention is to field dress a game. Much finer that other blades, the pen blade is outstanding when you need to gut smaller games because of its pen-pointed blade. As for the sheepsfoot, you can use this for cutting various items placed on a flat surface. The only problem is, you cannot clean a game efficiently with this tool because of a rounded point.

Conclusion

These are what you need to keep in mind when it comes to choosing a great quality knife for hunting purposes. Although there are expensive and cheaper ones available, the choice still depends on your budget and the features you need. Just think about the quality instead of compromising this aspect since the last thing you want is to waste your money for a tool that does not meet your expectations.

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