Updated Nov 22, 2021 4:32 PM

Hunting knives are critical tools for any outdoorsman, but picking out a new hunting knife can be tricky. There are many different types of hunting knives on the market today. Do you want a clip point knife or a drop point knife? Should you go with a folding knife or a fixed blade hunting knife? Answering these questions can be difficult if you don’t know what to consider. This is a comprehensive guide that will help you find the best hunting knives on the market.

How to find the best hunting knives for every task

Hunting knives are more than just another piece of hunting equipment. They’re prized tools and, sometimes, heirlooms. They often tell a story and say something about who you are as an outdoorsman. This means that when you’re shopping for a new knife, you need to find one that is functional, well-made, and fits your character.

Hunting knives come in a wide array of choices that not only look different but also function differently. No matter which you choose, your new knife should be a versatile tool that will accomplish different tasks. Still, before purchasing a new knife, you need to consider what you will use it for. Are you field dressing big game regularly? Then you probably want a fixed blade knife. Is portability important to you? Consider a folding knife. Are you going to use your knife primarily for skinning? These are just a few questions to consider when looking for the best hunting knives out there.

Choosing a new hunting knife requires making several key considerations. Ultimately, you want to get a hunting knife that will last you a long time. If you buy a well-made hunting knife, you will be able to pass it down to the next-generation of hunters in your family. This buyer’s guide cuts through the noise to help you purchase a hunting knife you will cherish for years to come.

A fixed blade hunting knife is strong

A fixed blade is a classic style. It exists in contrast to a folding blade knife. The lack of a folding point means that there is no weak point in the knife, which makes for a strong knife that can hold up to the stresses of processing game. Cleaning is also easier due to the lack of nooks and crannies. Fixed blade knives are sturdy, reliable, and easy to use. 

There are some drawbacks that you should be aware of. Fixed blade knives are bulkier than folding knives. You need to set aside extra room in your pack or attach them to your belt. You will also need to use a sheath. Some fixed blade knives do not come with sheaths, which means spending extra money to safely carry your knife through the woods.

Best Fixed Blade Hunting Knife: Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner Fixed Blade Knife

The Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner Fixed Blade Knife has everything you need out of a big-game hunting knife. cabelas

The Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner Fixed Blade Knife features a 4.2-inch stainless steel clip point blade, and a contoured Richlite handle. This makes for a classic-looking knife with impressive field functionality. It’s ideal for field dressing and skinning big game.

Folding hunting knives have come a long way

You should consider a folding knife for several reasons. Many hunters have an aversion to folding knives because they aren’t quite as strong as fixed blade hunting knives. This is true—folding knives must be able to fold, which means there will always be a weak part in their design. That said, many manufacturers make high-quality folding knives that are plenty tough to get the job done when butchering a deer—or any other kind of game. For all but the most difficult tasks, folding knives perform more than well enough.

Folding hunting knives also have a couple of key benefits compared to fixed blade knives. Folding knives are more compact. They’re easier and safer to carry in the woods as well. You’re far less likely to cut yourself if you fall when carrying a folding hunting knife. Be aware that it will likely take more time to clean a folding blade knife than a fixed blade knife.

Best Folding Hunting Knife: Buck Knives 110 Folding Hunter Knife

The Buck Model 110 has been around since 1963 and has been used to gut countless deer since then. Buck Knives

The Buck Model 110 is an iconic hunting knife that is functional, versatile, and very strong. The razor-sharp clip point blade provides plenty of cutting power, while the folding design makes it convenient to carry.

Have you considered a drop point knife?

You should be aware of two types of blade designs before purchasing a new hunting knife. Clip point blades are the more traditional hunting knife, but that doesn’t necessarily make them better. Clip point blades are made with a convex spine that arches down from the handle to the point. In contrast, the spine of a drop point blade begins like a clip point blade before “dropping” in a concave arch to the knife’s tip.

You should consider drop point blades for their versatility. The sturdy design of a drop point hunting knife means that they’re typically wide, which is great for tasks like disjointing and prying. Drop point blades are also generally short and allow you to cut precisely. This design also reduces the chance of unintentionally puncturing the stomach or intestines while you’re field dressing your kill. For the no-frills hunter, a drop point knife is a phenomenal option.

Best Drop Point Knife: Knives of Alaska Elk Hunter Suregrip Drop-Point Fixed-Blade Knife

The Knives of Alaska Elk Hunter Suregrip Drop-Point Fixed-Blade Knife is a durable and powerful hunting knife. cabelas

The Knives of Alaska Elk Hunter Suregrip Drop-Point Fixed Blade Knife is for hunters who mean business. The knife’s backbone is an impressively sharp D-2 tool steel blade. The rubberized handle has an ergonomic grip that allows for precision when gutting game. 

Do you need a gut hook knife?

When you’re shopping for a new hunting knife, you’re going to come across products that feature gut hooks. What is a gut hook? Gut hook knives feature sharp semi-circle “hooks” that jut backward from the knife’s tip. The gut hook serves one essential purpose: helping you open up the gut cavity of your kill. First, you need to make a small incision on the underside of your kill. Then, you can put the gut hook into the small opening and pull it down like a zipper. This makes it easier and potentially faster to field dress your game, and greatly reduces the chance of puncturing an internal organ.

Are there any drawbacks to a gut hook hunting knife? Well, for one, it is darn difficult to keep the gut hook itself sharp. The hook-shaped design makes it difficult to sharpen. Some hunters use a file to sharpen the gut hook but be aware—this process can be tricky. You’re also not going to be able to sharpen the spine, which some hunters like to do with other types of hunting knives. Still, for many hunters, the gut hook feature is a must-have when field dressing game.

Best Gut Hook Knife: Benchmade Saddle Mountain Gut Hook Fixed Blade Knife

The Benchmade Saddle Mountain Gut Hook Fixed Blade Knife design makes field dressing any species of North American big game a breeze. cabelas

The Benchmade Saddle Mountain Gut Hook Fixed Blade Knife has a 4.2″ fine edge gut hook blade that is a great size for use in the field. The CPM-S30V steel blade stays sharp, and the fixed blade design means it’s a strong knife. This is a high-quality option for anyone who wants to reap the benefits of a gut hook hunting knife.

Best budget hunting knife: what you get for under $25

A new hunting knife can be expensive. There are knives with price tags that range not just in the hundreds but in the thousands. These make for pristine masterpieces, sure, but spending that kind of dough is not an option for most hunters. Quality knives have solid blades that will last a long time with the proper care. They also typically are made with artistry that is unmatched in more affordable offerings. 

That said, if you are on a budget, you can still get a hunting knife that will help you get the job done just fine. When looking for a budget hunting knife, look for a product made with a high-quality steel blade. Also, keep your eye out for a sturdy grip that will allow you to maneuver the knife well. A budget knife may not cut as cleanly as a pricey knife, but you can still field dress game without a hitch if you pay attention.

Best Budget Hunting Knife: Cabela’s Hunt Series Drop-Point Fixed Blade Knife

The Cabela’s Hunt Series Drop-Point Fixed Blade Knife has all the features you need in a hunting knife at a low price point. cabelas

Cabela’s Fixed Blade Knife is a no-joke hunting knife. The drop-point blade is made out of rust-resistant high-chromium 440 stainless steel. It’s a durable and useful budget knife. 


Q: How long should a hunting knife be?

It depends on personal preference, but there are a couple of key factors you should still keep in mind. Hunting knives typically range between 2 to 6-inches. Four inch blades are especially popular length because it allows for smooth and precise cuts without becoming too bulky. The longer the knife is, the more difficult it can become to field dress your game properly. When in doubt, go small. Most 2 to 4-inch knives are great options for hunters.

Q: What is the best steel for a hunting knife?

The best steel for a hunting blade depends on several factors. Most hunting knives are made with either stainless steel or carbon steel. Stainless steel knives resist rust and are ideal for places that have high humidity levels. That said, stainless steel knives are not known for their edge retention. You will need to sharpen a stainless steel blade more often than a carbon steel blade. Carbon steel makes for a harder and potentially sharper blade that holds its edge longer than a stainless steel blade.

Q: What is the best knife to gut a deer?

This question is likely to start a heated debate at any deer camp. There is no clear answer to this question, just like there is no clear answer to what the best rifle is to shoot a deer. For most hunters, a 3 or 4-inch fixed point knife will get the job done well. From there, it all comes down to personal preference.

The final word on finding the best hunting knives

Every real hunter owns a hunting knife—and likely more than one. Hunting knives are tools of the trade, and the kind of hunting knife you use can make a big difference when you’re out in the field. The best hunting knives come in all different designs and sizes, from fixed blades to gut hook blades to drop point blades. Each type of hunting knife has its benefits and drawbacks. But when it comes right down to it, you need to get one that you’re comfortable carrying and using when the time comes. Then, get your knife out and get to work.