Hunters have been fighting about which knives are best since time immemorial. Get into the wrong message board and you can find hundreds of people arguing for hours simply about the different grades of stainless steel alone.
Are some better than others? Sure. But will you ever find the best knife that does everything you want it to? Probably not. With enough patience, you could skin and butcher a deer with a folding pocketknife, but that doesn’t mean you want to.
I’m an advocate of carrying multiple knives—ones that serve different purposes and do their jobs well. In the list below, you’ll see a variety: from large to small, fixed blade to folding.
Buck Knives Selkirk Fixed Blade Knife
You don’t make it over 100 years as a knife company by making so-so knives. And Buck knows their knives.
Personally, I prefer a fixed blade nine times out of ten when I’m skinning and butchering. It’s more comfortable and I get a better grip. The Buck Knives Selkirk is a fixed-blade beauty with a wood-looking Micarta handle for less slippage when your hands get bloody.
Add the durability of 420HC steel and Buck’s unique heat-treating process, and you get a knife that’s reliable to a drop point for skinning, gutting, and trimming.
Ka-Bar Hunter Fixed Blade Knife
A classic is a classic for a reason. A good hunter-style knife allows for quick skinning thanks to its length and easy gutting thanks to its strength. The Ka-Bar Hunter is the perfect example of this style.
While workhorse knives don’t need to be pretty, the Ka-Bar Hunter is. Its stacked handle is contoured with finger grips for a little extra hold. A brass guard keeps your digits extra safe, too.
Old Timer Sharpfinger Fixed Blade Knife
I hate wasting meat, whether it’s my own fault or because of a knife that’s simply too large to do the job. For that reason, I like to keep an Old Timer Sharpfinger fixed blade around.
The clip point blade of a Sharpfinger makes delicate skinning a breeze. Plus, as a high carbon knife, it can bounce against bone a little more without dulling as quickly.
Gerber Gator Folding Knife
While I prefer the stability of a fixed blade, I’m more than well aware of how one can sometimes get in the way when you’re on a long hunt for big game. For that reason, the Gerber Gator Folder is a winner.
It’s light at 5.4 ounces. It’s not long at 8.5 inches in total. It’s got good steel in 420HC. And most importantly—at least to me—it features “rubberized alligator skin” on its handle, making it practically slip-proof. Sold.
Buck 657 Pursuit Fixed Blade Knife
The value of a gut hook can’t be understated. After my first time using one, I knew that at least one of my knives would need to have one. And because I’m a sucker for a Buck, the 657 Pursuit is always in my pack.
And not just because of the gut hook, but because of the Versaflex rubber handle, too. Plus, like other knives on this list, a good carbon-heavy steel in 420HC.
Of course, this isn’t the end-all-be-all of hunting knives. It’s just a few that I recommend keeping in your pack. You can shop the whole selection of knives and find the ones that best fit your own skinning and butchering styles.
Don’t see your favorite knife on this list? Leave a comment and let me know which you prefer.