When hunting, your gun or cross bow are only the opening act. Once you have downed your prey, the next part of the processs is to dress the meat, and this is where a great skinning knife comes to play. A good skinner knife does not have to be a mean looking, over-sized, Bowie design knife. It actually is better if you have a slightly smaller blade to skin your deer because larger blades are not only cumbersome, it might not have the kind of control and precision needed.
Some hunters purchase a skinning knife set that has a variety of knives for different tasks such as gut hooks or even a boning knife, but if you are traveling light, your best bet is to purchase one good deer skinning knife that is not a specialized knife but all rounder. You will need a knife that is durable enough to keep sharp and clean in the hunting environment and yet reliable enough that you know it will get the job done when you need it.
Deer skinning knives are generally mid-sized knives with at least 2 inches to a 4-inch blade at most. Anything larger than that and it is not going to be easy to handle and anything smaller than that, you will be spending quite some time to finish the job.
Clip point knives are not the best deer skinning knife or a skinner knife in general because the thin sharp point, which is often the one used in contact with the skin, has a nasty tendency of nicking the deer’s digestive organs which can cause other unwanted issues.
It is in the experience of countless outdoorsman that a drop-point blade make for the best skinning knives because it minimizes the chance that you accidentally puncture an organ when field dressing, or rip a hole in the hide. Plus, the thicker tip ensures strength and durability, which are both needed to properly skin a deer.
Fixed vs. Folders
A lot of more seasoned hunters prefer a fixed blade knife simply because most have a full-tang construction which provides the strongest knife construction available. This is where most folders fall short. They simply do not have that level of reliability and strength that fixed blades inherently have. Fixed blades are also easier to clean and maintain than folder which can come in handy when in the wild.
Folders on the other hand have the advantage of being easily concealed and therefore can be a multi-purpose tool. You can use folding knives even in the urban situation wherein fixed blades pretty much have to sit in a shelf or drawer until the next hunting trip. Most folders also have a clip for your belt or pocket which then eliminates the need for a sheath which requires a whole different set of maintenance.
Each side has valid point but at the end of the day, the best skinning knife is one that compliments the ability of the hunter. Younger hunters prefer folding knives while the veterans prefer the fixed bladed knives. As long as the knife blade is of the right length, properly maintained and the edge is always sharp, it should make a great skinning knife. Material-wise, there is not a lot of debate as far as high carbon or stainless steel. As long as the edge is straight and smooth, you’re good to go. You should also look into a well-designed handle. This usually means some kind of finger guard to prevent you from cutting yourself as well as some kind of grooving or ergonomic design to improve the grip. G10 seems to be very popular and for good reasons.
Top 5 Skinning Knives
D.H. Russell Canadian Belt Knife
This knife has time on its side. It has undergone endless testing, both by the manufacturers and personally by various hunters and trappers. The original design of the D.H. Russell was conceived in 1957 and up to 16 companies have copied it all in its more than five decades of existence. The D.H. Russell, the one and original still is around and have outlasted countless competitors who copied its design.
From the unique design of the blade to the ergonomically crafted handle with various patterns used, the D.H. Russell is indeed in a class of its own. Its reliability is unquestioned and the effectiveness of the blade has proven itself through time. If you want a skinning knife that is going to perform time and time again without requiring too much maintenance, then the D.H. Russell is worth looking at.
This is a true hunters’ knife. It is one of a few folding knives that has proven itself for more than five decades. The Buck 110 design officially reached its 50 years in 2013 and proved that when it isn’t broken, there is no need to fix it. The classic design has been copied countless times but the original Buck 110 has outlasted all that. Its reliable lock back design makes it just as reliable as a fixed blade skinner.
The original Buck 110 has few, if any design flaws to begin with so that could explain why it has lasted all these years and garnering the admiration of all kind of hunters, young and old alike. Its scary sharp blade right out of the box has been proven through the hair test and the drop point tip makes it a perfect skinning knife for a lot of hunters out there. Click here to see current prices on Amazon.;
Benchmade 585 Mini Barrage
As one of the most recognizable names in knives, you know what you are getting when you have a Benchmade knife. The 585 is one of the best knives that one can have. With it being a folding knife, some might say that it cannot be the greatest skinning knife out there.
But with features like a Valox handle, an ambidextrous thumb studs that enables you to employ the blade with any hand, and probably one of the strongest blades in the business, the 585 is definitely comparable even to the best quality fixed blade knives. Its stainless steel blade, with its black finish gives it the final look of a tactical and everyday carry knife. But the 585 is never happier than when opening belly of a deer apart as one of the most efficient skinners out there. Click here to see the latest prices and specials on Amazon.
DiamondBlade Goddard Traditional Hunter
This knife looks like every other skinning knife so one might ask, what is so special about this knife? I have two words for you, friction forging. The DiamondBlade is a regular looking drop point blade with an equally ordinary looking handle. What makes this skinner special is the way that the blade is forged.
It was forged with tons of pressure in heat involved which made the steel harder, tougher and a whole lot sharper. With its incredible strength, it also can retain its scary sharpness for a lot longer against a lot more abuse than the regular knife can. The original design of the sheath for this knife actually had to be changed just to make sure that the knife does not cut through.
Loveless Drop Point
R.W. Loveless has been in the knife world since the 50’s and this drop point knife is one of his best skinning knives. The steel used for the blade is called 154CM which was originally designed to be used on jet-engine exhausts which means they are a lot tougher and virtually rust proof. The fact that it retains an edge like nobody’s business is a great advantage for this type of steel.
The less than 4 inch drop point blade also had a full tang construction which made it very strong and able to handle a lot of punishment and with a blade that is capable of withstanding great pressure and abuse, you should not expect anything less. The Loveless drop-point hunter is one, if not the, best skinning knives in the market today.Click her to check out latest prices on Amazon.
So there you go, five of the very best skinning knives out there. All of these knives have a few things in common but are also quite different from each other. They all have a drop point blade. The edges are all smooth and the handles are properly designed to optimize control of the knife without risking the hunters’ fingers. Safety is not something to take for granted especially since most hunting trips takes you hours away from any kind of significant medical attention.
Some are simple looking while others have that timeless appeal but what really makes these knives happy is when they are between two pieces of skin and slicing like hot knife through butter. They are not meant to be used any other way. They are not very useful for anything else, but they are the best at what they do.