A hunting knife is a tool before it is anything else. Because of this, it carries a special value that other knives may not have. A good hunting knife can be worn on your side year-after-year, and then passed on as an heirloom piece to your children or even grandchildren.
Today’s best hunting knives are highly-engineered works of art that can serve years in the field and still be proudly displayed as collectibles. Modern materials and steel alloys ensure a premium level of quality unprecedented with older, more antiquated designs.
In the following article, we take a look at a few of the best hunting knives on the market. Our review team has carefully combed through the options and come up with those hunting knives that demonstrate superiority in their intended function.
If you are currently on the market for a new knife to take on hunting trips, keep reading as we discuss the ins-and-outs of each of these quality-crafted masterpieces of knifemaking.
What to Look For in a Hunting Knife
While you’re out on the hunt, you don’t have time to deal with a cheap knife. Cheap knives can get you hurt (while you’re way out somewhere without much help), or they can leave you in a bind. That’s why we examine these characteristics when selecting our knives:
A hunting knife is, first and foremost, a tool. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that it be built solidly. If you ever pick up a hunting knife with a loose handle that slips around, pommels that easily unscrew or tighten up to sit crooked, or notice anything else that seems “un-solid”, you should really put it down and never consider using it until repaired or replaced.
Taking a knife on a hunting trip could mean it gets subjected to harsh conditions. Not all hunting trips are the same, and some conditions could be destructive to certain materials. You’ll especially want to ensure you have non-corrosive steel or appropriate coatings in the case of carbon steel. Synthetic handle materials are most often superior when dealing with wet, cold, or sandy environments.
Blade design and shape matters a lot when you’re using the knife to do a particular kind of work. For hunting knives, the drop point is a traditional favorite due to its sweeping radius and subtle point. This allows the hunter to make quick work of harvesting hide and meat, without fear of accidentally puncturing skin or organs in the process.
Best Hunting Knife Reviews
This knife also comes with a MOLLE compatible molded-polymer sheath that is designed to accommodate military and LE standard-issue equipment. ESEE also offers an unconditional lifetime warranty, stating clearly that if their knives should ever break for any reason they will replace it for free. Depending on the intended hunting environment and conditions, this could easily lead to this knife paying for itself over time.
This blade is a good example of the quality you can expect out of a Benchmade knife. Aesthetically it is more appealing to the traditionalists and purists, with its durable composite Dymondwood handle that has been colored to simulate wood grain. This translates into a synthetic G-10 grip that won’t let you down in the rain (or inside a deer) – that is easy to clean, sanitize, and bring back to its original condition.
If you’re an avid hunter that spends a good deal of time with your knife in hand, this is one you want to look at closely.
Please, let us explain – the beautiful black leather sheath of this knife comes custom-built with a holder for a rod of firesteel (a firesteel stick is included). If you’re the type that goes on regular overnight hunting trips or spends a healthy amount of time in the wilderness at all, this is a knife you really don’t want to miss out on.
The blade on this hunting knife is comprised of ultra-hard MOVA-58 Stainless. This translates into a blade capable of unparalleled sharpness and superior edge retention to ensure it stays. Sharpening harder steel by hand can be a chore, so you may consider a high-quality small field sharpener as well.
The handle material is made from Micarta, another industry leader known for durability and keeping its grip in wet conditions. It does discolor quickly, but usually cleans up well with just soapy water.
Designed personally by Ethan Becker and manufactured in Olean, New York, the knife is aesthetically similar to a kitchen knife. In utility it serves well in that function, making quick work of all campsite tasks. As such, we recommend this knife for camping enthusiasts especially – it can survive in your camping kit for a lifetime without needing replacement.
That being said, do not count this knife out as a hunting knife, a tactical carry piece, or even a self-defense blade used in every day carry. The minimalist approach in its design allows it to take on the role you need it to. Need to skin a deer? No problem. Slice onions for the camp stew? Not an issue. Fellow campers turn out to be spies and attack? This knife can handle it.
This knife thrives as a survival knife, and in that category, it is a #1 contender. It is a massive knife, being made from a solid piece of ¼’ thick steel. In survival situations you can use this knife as a tool capable of prying, pounding, and splitting almost anything you come across. However, a knife/tool that is so capable in these areas comes with a price; most often being size and weight.
The drop-point blade offers the blade up for use in skinning, but the unwieldy size of it makes it awkward for some. We will say that it is better suited for the skinning of larger game animals, as you generally have more room to work and are dealing with larger hides and such.
Hunting Knife Conclusions
To wrap things up, let’s take a moment to reflect on what we’ve covered here. First, we selected some masterfully built hunting knives based on their solid construction, environmental suitability, and blade design. We wanted knives that were reliable, safe to use in all conditions, and properly suited for the work of a hunting knife.
Our first knife was the ESEE 3-PM, favored by the world’s military and Law Enforcement elites. Then we looked at Benchmade’s Hidden Canyon Hunter, a popular favorite due to its small stature and efficient cutting radius. We also looked at Bushcraft’s Survival Hunting Knife, engineered for wilderness survival and fire-making.
Ka-Bar’s Becker BK2 gave us a look at a great general-purpose hunting knife, as well-suited for chopping vegetables as it is for acts of heroism. And finally, we discussed the massive ESEE 5PE Tactical Survival knife, the best choice for big-game hunters and safaris.
Each of these knives excels in their own right, and any of them could serve you and yours for years to come. In some ways, it is a matter of “Coke or Pepsi?” and it all comes down to aesthetics and personal choice. Because they are all winners, you choose the one that looks the most appealing.
Sometimes, however, we need a knife that is specifically suited for the task. That is exactly why we wanted to break it down and review the knives that are currently considered the best. We hope you found the information here helpful, and that you find the perfect knife for you.
Stay safe out there, and thanks for reading!