The best hunting knife has to be the most underrated piece of gear in a survivalist’s kit.
There’s so much talk all around about the utility of machetes and axes and mauls. But when the SHTF, you’ll find yourself reaching for the trusted hunting knife more often than not.
It can switch roles in the blink of an eye.
From cutting strips of vine to make cordage, to cutting branches to make an A-frame, to skinning, boning and dressing whitetail, the tiny pocket-sized knife can do it all.
But you might find yourself at wits end while shopping for the best hunting knife.
There are tons of them in varying shapes, sizes and configurations vying for your attention.
How then do you find a worthy replacement for your trusted knife that died on you after two decades?
That’s where we step in. Let’s take a quick look at the best hunting knives in the market in 2022.
#1 – Buck Knives 110 Folding Hunter
With more than fifty years of unrivalled performance to back it up with, it should come as no surprise that our favorite hunting knife is the Buck 110.
This is the quintessential American hunting knife crafted from 420HC Stainless Steel. Rock hard, easy to sharpen and holds its edge for days.
At 3-3/4”, the clip point blade is just the right size for most applications around camp. Despite being a folding knife, it is strong enough to sustain demanding tasks, like skinning big game.
The straight part of the blade makes woodworking as well as prep tasks effortless, whereas the belly and the sharp tip can be put to good use for tasks that demand finesse.
Be aware though that the tip is a little aggressive and you can easily break it if you try to pry open things with it. Ditto while dressing game. It’s very easy to accidentally puncture the guts, thereby ruining the meat.
So, your skill with the knife will play a huge part in the tasks that you are able to accomplish with it.
Having said that, the Crelicam Ebony handle with its gentle curves fits like an old sock in your palm. It is hands down, the most comfortable handle on a hunting knife that we’ve used. This gives you great control even when your palm and the handle is wet.
We could go on and on about the Buck 110 all day.
If you have never owned this American classic, then do yourself a favor and get one already. It’s quite reasonably priced for the things that it can do.
- Pocket-sized folding knife
- More than 50 years of proven performance
- Tough 420HC stainless steel clip point blade
- Perfect for a variety of tasks
- Crelicam Ebony handle with Brass Bolsters
- Classy aesthetics
- Forever Warranty
- 30+ years of use and yet to find one
#2 – Benchmade – North Fork 15031-1
The North Fork 15031-1 is a solid, pocket-sized hunting knife with a razor-sharp Drop Point blade.
Great ergonomics, a CPM-S30V stainless steel blade that retains its edge for weeks (if not more), and a wooden handle that do its aesthetics no harm, make this a great everyday carry knife.
It is designed for one-handed operation as there are thumb-studs on both sides for releasing the blade.
There’s no play in between the handle and the blade and the hinges are butter smooth.
The 2.97” size might seem a little small in comparison to some of the other knives in this list. But it gives you great control when you are making sharp cuts at awkward angles or at corners.
Also, it serves the 3” limit set by many cities in case you are travelling and caught with one of these.
The exaggerated belly on the 15031-1, is very useful for field dressing and slicing.
When not in use, it is compact enough to tuck into the pocket. It also clips on easily on either side courtesy the switchable clip.
North Fork’s AXIS® locking mechanism keeps you covered in case of an accidental mishap or slippage, preventing the knife from falling into the handle.
Overall, this makes for a great EDC and a very practical hunting knife.
- Corrosion resistant CPM-S30V stainless steel blade
- Sharp recurved drop point blade
- Easy to sharpen and retains its edge
- Compact and sturdy
- Perfect for field dressing, slicing
- Wooden handle
- Not the best of options for piercing
- A tad pricier than our #1 pick
#3 – ESEE Laser Strike
If folders don’t catch your fancy or fit your description of the best hunting knife, then here’s the Laser Strike from Esee.
This is a brute of a fixed blade survival knife that features a full-tang 1095 carbon steel construction with a spear point edge.
It is 10” long overall, with a 4 7/8” saber ground flat edge that can cut, chop, hack, slice, skin and do everything in between. The perfect knife for general use around camp as well as for specialized hunting applications.
The blade is 0.188” thick, with a flat back face for batoning. Incredibly sturdy for a knife this size.
Quite naturally, it weighs 1 pound. The extra weight can be put to good use though.
It comes shaving-sharp out of the box and even if you baton it for an hour, it retains the sharpness.
The handle is canvas-laminated micarta and features a textured finish, with a finger groove for a firm grip in less-than-ideal conditions.
A recess is thrown in on the left scale to use as a socket for a fire bow. Ferro rod and tinder tabs are concealed neatly in the handle.
If you aren’t bothered by the size, this is a terrific all-purpose knife to carry in your backpack.
- Sturdy, full tang construction
- Fixed blade, spear point knife
- Perfect for piercing, stabbing
- Works equally well for general use
- 188” thick 1095 carbon steel
- Shaving-sharp edge with great retention
- Spear points are less preferred for tasks that demand finesse, like skinning big game
- Blade will rust & stain if not properly taken care of
#4 – Spyderco Bradley Bowie Fixed Blade Knife
The Spyderco Bradley Bowie Fixed Blade Knife might come across as an oddity if you compare it with more conventional hunting knives.
It has a full flat ground blade, which is more commonly used in woodworking and whittling.
But it is such a strong and compact knife that it can easily double up as a do-it-all hunting knife.
It features a PSF27 steel blade that offers great corrosion resistance and edge integrity. Moreover, the 5.13” size makes it adept at a variety of tasks.
Club that with a contoured handle is made of tough carbon fiber that fits smoothly in your palm, and you have great control while skinning and dressing small game. Or while cutting cordage or stripping bark.
The spine is thick enough for batoning if you wish to drive the knife into a branch.
At 9.93”, it is smaller than most fixed blade EDC knives and can easily fit on to your belt clip. It’s a lightweight knife. So you can carry it all day without even feeling it.
Spyderco blades are made in Taiwan and are used globally by professional chefs.
- Sturdy fixed blade hunting knife
- Full flat ground edge
- PSF27 steel blade
- 13” blade size
- 93” knife
- Made in Taiwan
- May not be ideal for deboning, hacking or chopping branches
#5 – Havalon Piranta Z
If you are a backpack hunter who likes to preserve the trophy unblemished until it reaches the taxidermist, then the Havalon Piranta Z is ‘THE’ best hunting knife for you.
This compact folder was designed for skinning and capping big game. Period.
It comes with a razor sharp edge that will make short work of most of your field dressing and capping tasks. The blade is just a hair short of 3” and at that size, you can slip it under the cape for cuts and peels that would otherwise result in wastage.
You might discover though that the 60A carbon steel blade is a little thin as compared to most hunting knives. But Havalon throws in a set of 12 replacement blades in the pack.
So, if you accidentally damage it or it loses the edge, just swap it for a new one. No messy sharpening tools to deal with.
The Piranta Z has a tough ABS plastic handle with a contoured, rubberized grip that fits nicely into your palms. It is a bright orange color ensuring that even if you misplace or drop it in the bush, you can spot it easily.
Also, you can rinse it in water without worrying about damaging the handle.
Weighing just 6.4 oz. and measuring just 7.25”, the Piranta Z is one of the smallest folding hunting knives in this list.
There are thumb studs on both sides for opening it and a safety catch to prevent it from opening when it’s clipped to your belt.
Comes with a black carrying case.
- Compact folding knife
- Perfect for skinning, deboning and capping big game
- Razor sharp edge with 12 replacement blades
- Tough ABS plastic handle with rubberized grip
- Blade is just 2.75”, perfect for sharp cuts
- Weighs just 6.02 oz.
- Be extremely careful when you replace the blade as it is incredibly sharp. The new 60A blades have a small dull patch on the spine which makes it easy to replace without any special tools.
How to Select the Best Hunting Knife?
While the basic shape and profile of the hunting knives have remained unchanged over the years, you cannot ignore the difference that technology has bought into the tool more recently.
Here are a few important factors to consider when you shop for a hunting knife in 2022.
The Intended Use
What defines the hunting knife for you?
Will it be the only knife that you will carry on a hunt? Will it also double up as a bushcrafting knife? Do you carry multiple knives for different tasks?
Given that you won’t be using it to hunt an animal like John Rambo did, our best guess is that it will primarily be used for field dressing big or small game, and as an all-purpose knife around camp.
There are some types of knives that are better suited for certain specific applications.
The Piranta Z with its flat edge for example works phenomenally well for skinning and dressing game.
But it falls short if you are also looking at a knife to butcher the meat or to cut some branches to build a shelter.
You are better off with a Fixed blade like the Esee Laser Strike or the Spyderco Proficient for chopping small branches or clearing brush.
Pick one that suits your requirements.
There are many types of hunting knife blades. Some are more common than the rest.
- Drop Point: Versatile and durable blades that can be identified by the convex shape from the spine to the edge. Drop points are very utilitarian knives and are well suited for many applications.
- Clip Point: Clip points feature a concave curve (normally) from the spine to the edge and have an aggressive tip that can also be used for stabbing, piercing or cutting. If you misfired and want to put the animal out of its misery in no time, this is the knife you need. Clip points also work well for tasks that require finesse, towards the tip.
- Spear Point: As implied by the name, these knives are designed for stabbing. Find zombies too often in the woods? Get one of these bad boys. Spear points are generally not used as multipurpose knives. But with a marked improvement in the quality of HC steel blades, there’s no reason why you cant get one of these as an EDC.
Other than these, there are straight back or standard knives which are also used as hunting knives.
Folding vs. Fixed Blade
The perpetual debate that has raged on for years. Both have their shares of pros and cons.
Folders are lighter, easier to carry and more recently, have very strong locks and improved designs that make them less likely to fail.
Fixed knives are considered to be stronger (though that might not necessarily be the case) and less likely to break under pressure. The full tang construction and size can be limiting though if you are looking at something portable.
Pick one that best suits your requirements and also your personal preferences.
Wooden handles continue to have ongoing appeal among knife aficionados. But they may not be a practical choice while skinning and gutting an animal where the handle will be coated with blood and fat.
Materials like Micarta and G10 are more durable and low on maintenance. So is ABS plastic.
Irrespective of the material, look for a handle that is comfortable to grip and has a textured, non-slip surface.
To sum it up, we have some terrific options that cover most of the requirements that hunters and bush crafters usually have.
Looking for a compact folding knife? Check out the Buck Knives 110 or the North Fork 15031-1.
Prefer a fixed blade? We have the Spyderco Proficient and the Esee Laser strike for you.
And anyone who wants a dedicated knife for skinning can’t go wrong with the Piranta Z.
What’s your favorite best hunting knife?