No professional hunter or wildlife enthusiast can survive the extreme condition of a jungle without a skinning knife, particularly used for hunting and skinning the hides of games. Keeping in view the application of these knives, manufacturers prefer to keep the weight and size as limited as possible. A poor quality knife is the last thing you’d like to carry with you in an adventure trip. Even the best pocket knife isn’t suitable for skinning your game. That’s why enthusiasts prefer knives that are specially built for skinning. Skinning cum hunting knives come in different shapes and sizes.
Each type has its own share of merits and demerits. You need to decide for yourself what your exact requirements are and make a choice accordingly. I don’t claim to be an expert but from my 20 years of experience with camping and hiking, I have learnt how a good knife aids you in preparing your food and gets you out alive from a life and death situation.
Top 5 Best Skinning Knives: Editor’s Pick
Best Skinning Knives – Skinning Knife Reviews of 2019
1. Benchmade 15001-2 Saddle MTN Skinner
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Talking of outdoor knives without mentioning Benchmade will be sacrilegious. The Benchmade 15001-2 is crafted after the fashion of traditional fixed blade models. The latest version, replacing the 4.17 inches blade, features a modified 4.2 inches, super-sharp and corrosion-resistant CPM-S3OV, top-quality stainless steel blade. This high grade blade has overwhelmed the critics with an exception edge retention ability and durability. The handle is built from a solid dymonwood. The knife is placed neatly inside a leather sheath at the time of delivery.
Benchmade mountain skinner is a dream tool for passionate hunters. I would suggest it for field dressing medium-sized games. Thanks to the superior cutting prowess, even the steep price of the product has not been able to pull down the sells over the years.
2. Buck Knives 0103BRS Cocobola Dymonwood Skinner Knife
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Buck knife Cocobola Dymonwood skinner knife is one of the top contenders for the title of the best skinning knife. Buck is counted as one of the premium knife making brands in the U.S. 0103BRS Cocobola gets cookies for its 4” extra wide, 420HC steel blade that provides precision and force while skinning and slicing the meat without making a mess. Reaching the tight places of the carcass isn’t a problem with this narrow blade.
Under average use, the blade doesn’t require frequent touch ups. The Dymonwood handle comes with a brass pommel which comes handy in splitting logs and various other outdoor activities. The best part about Buck knives is that all of them have forever warranty.
3. Tops Knives Tom Brown Tracker #3
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This fixed blade knife doesn’t fall weak no matter how much you put it through. The 5 1/2” black traction coated ATS-34 stainless, full tang, broad blade with sawback is born to cut almost everything. The sawback is a tremendously useful addition. It helps you to grab the carcass tightly while penetrating its hide. Not just that, the jagged teeth also lets you cut the bones and joints of the games with speed.
The premium finger grooved black linen handle results in comfortable grip. The lanyard hole added to the handle makes it easy to hang. The product comes packaged in a stylish black kydex belt sheath.
4. Buck Knives 113 Ranger Skinner Hunting Knife with Walnut Handle
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Buck 113 Ranger Skinner is yet another masterpiece from the best knife manufacturers in the U.S. It features a 3-1/8” drop point blade crafted from the best quality 420HC steel. Tempering the steel was a unique approach by Hoyt Buck, the inventor of Buck knives, back in 1902. The blade locks into place and retains its edge for a great span of time despite of rigorous actions. The overall weight is approximately 7 ¼”.
The rugged American walnut hole featuring Bras Bolster is pretty impressive. Buck 113 ranger has made its reputation on the basis of its excellent craftsmanship.
5. Mossberg Fixed Skinning Knife
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The most innovative feature of Mossberg Skinning knife is its 3-1/2” long surgical steel, non-glare blade. It’s a premium quality steel that holds edge for ages if used properly. Mossberg is definitely not one of those flashy knives that don’t deliver upto the mark despite of a promising appearance. The polished camouflage handle gives the knife an edgy look. The beautiful ballistic cloth sheath keeps the blade protected against the vagaries of nature.
It works well with small games like rabbits. On the negative side, putting excessive stress on the blade will affect the performance. Anyway, the pros easily outweigh the drawbacks.
6. Havalon Piranta BOLT Skinning Knife Stronger 60 A Blades+ Holster
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For the lovers of the wild, Havalon Piranta BOLT is a treat. The new and improved edition of Havalon features a 60 A, ultra strong 2-3/4”, stainless steel blades with larger, solid, blaze orange ABS shock green handle. Moreover, there is a black rubber grip insert and versatile thumb studs for maximum comfort and operability. The liner-lock construction and removable pocket clip option deserve some praise.
The product is delivered at your doorstep with an additional black nylon belt holster. The improved, surgically sharp blade quality enables the knife for field dressing big games like mountain goats, elk, deer etc.
How to Choose the Best Skinning Knife
The best tactical knife should have the right length, amazing durability, tough and strong, easy to maneuver and above all, must feature a razor sharp blade that holds its edge for long. Amateurs will find it tough to decipher these aspects without getting into the specifics. The key to success is to learn about the important features of a skinning knife in detail.
1. Blade Style
What actually separates one model from another in terms of appearance and application is the shapes of blades. Some knives have bowed backs with slightly curved blades. Then there are knives featuring moderately curved cutting edge with a straight back. The edge of a Shakalu skinner, a sort of fixed blade knife, replicates the edge of an axe.
It also has a tiny gut hook for making small incision on the animal skin in order to pull up the carcass without damaging the membrane. Skinning knives featuring small yet heavy duty blades are called caping knives, chiefly used for dress the skin around the shoulder of a deer. According to the blade style, skinning knives can be classified into three main categories:
2. Spear Point Knives
These double edged knives are instantly recognizable for their symmetrical shape. The main advantage of a spear point blade lies in its great hunting ability. It brutally cuts the hide in upward and downward directions.
3. Drop Point Knife
In drop point knives, the back of the blade slowly curves down to the tip of the blade. This mechanism helps the hunters to have a firm grip on the knife and provides a large slicing surface. Drop point blades also decrease the chance of puncturing the membranes attached to the belly.
4. Clip Point or Bowie Knives
The back of a clip point knife has a straight spine up to the one-third length of the knife. From there it forms a concave curve towards the tip. This kind of knife widely serves as a deer hunting knife as the large cutting surface allows deep penetration into the hide of big games. It’s an all purpose knife used for meat cutting, gutting and skinning animals.
5. Blade Length
The type of game you are about to hunt down and process will determine the length of your knife. Treating both small and big games with a same knife is a stupid thought, discard it! Small games like rabbit, squirrels, muskrats, hares, beavers can be included in the list of small to medium games. Knives with three to four inches long blade is ideal for field dressing medium-sized games. For big games like pig, deer, sheep, javelin, goats which possess considerably thick hide, a five to seven inches blade will work well.
Who wants a knife that needs sharpening every now and then? In a deserted island or dark forest, you can hardly afford the luxury to spend hours polishing the edges. That’s why it’s vital to get your hands laid on a blade that retains its edge long enough while dressing the animal carcass and cutting its meat.
When you are buying a tool that is meant to get you through the toughest conditions, you certainly expect it to last for a lifetime. Sadly, even the most flamboyant, expensive knives become dull with the passage of time. Reading customer reviews online is a simple trick to find out whether the knife you’re eyeing for is dependable or not. Reputed brands like Benchmade and Tom Brown Tracker never negotiate with quality. If used and maintained properly, branded skinning knives will accompany you for ages.
8. Type of Game
Skinning a game is an art. It’s mandatory for a good hunter to know what kind of animal he is dealing with. An ordinary knife cannot perform the delicate task of skinning a deer. Hogs, beaver, mountain goats have thick hides. Knives used for skinning thick-skinned animals can be easily used for processing medium-sized games too. It’s next to impossible to get an exact idea of what blade will be the most useful. It’s best to play safe by assuming an average weight of the game would not be anything less than 15 pounds. Most large games weigh around 75 pounds.
Types of Skinning Knives
Also known as zipper knife, gut hooks are actually backward facing, sharp and narrow curves. It easily pierces and hooks onto the hide, making it easy to pull off the skin without puncturing any organ accidentally. The hook cut is placed against the spine, resembling a drop point knife to a certain level. Hunters prefer gut hooks for tearing open the belly of the game neatly and for slicing the skin without piercing any organ. The only problem with hooks is that once it loses its edge, it cannot be sharpened easily.
A swingblade or revolving knife consists of two blades in one frame, both serving to different purposes. The blades are hinged to the handle with the help of a locking bolt. Thus, the pivot tension keeps one blade folded inside the handle when the other one is in action. The first blade works like a normal knife blade while the latter one can be utilized as a saw-like tool to cut animal bones. Dependability and safety are two major issues with revolving knives. The blades are unable to stand extreme weather conditions. Recommended only for field dressing big games like sheep or elk.
Folding Blade Knives
As the very name implies, folding knives contain blades that can be easily folded back into the handle when not in use. This feature maximizes the user safety and adds to the ease of portability. Folding knives is a clear testimony of the phrase that good things always come in small packages. No wonder why folded EDC and survival knives are the bestselling knives across the globe. However, it is not free of flaws. Such knives cease to function when exposed to too much pressure on the tip.
Fixed Blade Knives
In a fixed blade knife, the blade, fully exposed, sticks to the handle. As there is no blade play, the user achieves a strong grip, aiding him to apply full force while cutting the hide or organs of the carcass. A solid fixed blade knife can handle manifold outdoor tasks like a breeze without collapsing. The long, thick blade and heavy-duty handle material, in turn, adds to the bulk and non-functioning weight of the knife. But that doesn’t sound like a big turn-off. Fixed blade knives should be kept covered inside sheaths for safety.
Concluding the Best Skinning Knife Dilemma
It takes some good amount of effort to find the best skinning knife among so many lucrative options. If you’re a serious about hunting, learning about knives in detail won’t be boring. From all that you’ve read above, I hope you’ve developed a clear idea in mind as to what to exactly look for. Each brand has something different to offer, each type of knife is unique from the other. Skinning animals is not just about right knives, it’s about the correct skill too. The best skinning knife helps you to achieve the much coveted finesse and accuracy of a seasoned hunter.