What you should take into account before buying a hunting knife?


Currently there are tons of different hunting knives on the market.  In this post we are going to talk about few things you should take into account before making a purchase.

#1: Do you want a folding or fixed blade?

Both folding and he fixed blade has its pros and cons. 

Let’s start with the folding blade:

Advantages:  The folding blade is compact and easy to carry around.   Some brands actually allow you to change the blade and switch it to a different type of blade.  It will usually fit in your pocket or clip to your pants, which is great if you need a “working” (not hunting) knife.

Disadvantages: Since it folds, the handle has a hollow compartment.  When you skin an animal it might be slightly awkward and it really isn’t as strong as a fixed blade.


And the fixed blade?

Advantages: Very sturdy and is often the preferred choice of most hunters.  If you want this type of knife, chances are you are a true hunter who has no need to carry a blade in their pocket.

Disadvantages: Especially when you buy a lower end knife, you have to be very careful of the type of “tang” the knife will have.  Ideally you want a knife with a full tang, they are the sturdiest.


#2: Pick out the right tang.

What the hell is a tang?

Currently there are a lot different tangs on the market. Which basically means, how long is the blade itself? Does the blade run throughout the handle or does it only run partially though the handle?

Have a look at this homemade picture for reference:


Although there are more types of tangs available, in the picture we only show three.  

If you look at the picture of the full tang, it is shows the reason it is the sturdiest as the blade runs from entirely through the handle. Metal runs throughout the knife and you don’t have to worry about it breaking.

 After that there is a “sub” or “partial” tang. Which means the metal will only go partly throughout the knife.  This design is decent at best, but not the best choice for this style of knife.

There is also a “rat tail” tang. Which is the cheapest of the three.

To give you an idea of the quality, professional sword makers would NEVER use the “rat tail” tang. It is only suitable for swords you plan to hang on the wall, NEVER used to make a real combat weapon. It is also the type of tang used for cheap kitchen knives, not ideal for hunting.

Why are there so many different types of tangs?

There is only one real reason, cost. The less materials used, the cheaper the knife will be.   Which is why most serious hunters will casually spend at last $50+ on a good quality hunting knife. Anything around that cost should be good quality and you won’t have to worry about construction issues.

#3: Knife’s usage

Aside from looking cool, most knives have a purpose.   Do you want a blade this is designed for skinning? Or do you just want a knife for general use?  

If you are planning on skinning your game you may want to consider getting a blade that has a gut hook. The hook will prevent you from puncturing internal organs.   If you actually slice into these organs, it could bleed into the animal and affect the quality of the meat.

However if you are going on a hunting trip and want a knife for general use, and do not plan on doing any type of skinning, you can buy whichever knife you find the most practical.

If you actually plan on using the knife for skinning, you should consider getting a rubber handle. When you skin game, you’ll find it much easier to use.  With more traditional and cooler looking handles, such as bone, it can be difficult to hold onto. When blood starts running it can become slippery.


To wrap up quickly you should take the following into account before making any type of purchase.

  1. Do you want a folding knife or a fixed blade?

This decision ties into point #3, however you should really take into account what you plan to use it for. If you want a knife that has a dual purpose, i.e you’re a carpenter and something you can bring to work as well as hunting, a folding knife might work best for you. That being said, if you want a workhorse, a fixed blade is the knife you’ll need.


  1. If you plan to get a fixed blade, what type of tang should you get?

Nowadays knife construction is pretty solid and you’ll have to worry about this less and less. However, if you want a fixed blade, asking your salesmen about the knife tang is still worthwhile. Ideally you should get a full tang, typically they are constructed the best and are the highest quality.


  1. Do you actually plan on using the knife or just want something cool?

Finally, do you want a workhorse or something to show to your buddies?  If you are planning on giving a gift to a hunter who is interested in high end knifes, you might want to look into more interesting handles, such as bone. They tend to look a lot nicer.  


However, if you are a hard core hunter, a pretty looking knife is probably the last thing on your mind. Chances are you’ll want a blade with a gut hook and more versatile handle material, such as rubber.

What type of hunting knife do you own?

 – – Scott

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5 thoughts on “What you should take into account before buying a hunting knife?”

  1. Nice post Scott,

    Randall knives have stood the test of time, on and off of the battlefield. I own two of their excellent No 1 fighters. A bit pricy of which part is from name brand recognition, but a solid multi-generational knife.

    I also like McCall from South Africa with their full tang tapering to the hilt (to preserve balance).

    Over the years, I’ve owned several custom made knives, the best by Rex Kimball of Las Cruces and is of his Mantis design. I’ve lost touch with Rex over the years but if anyone knows how to contact him, I’d be grateful.


  2. I have a large “bush knife” a Becker BK-9 full tang, a brute that can baton wood cut feather sticks and do fine work. I also own 2 Cold Steel Bushmasters {look them up on U Tube} a fantastic knife where the handle is actually part of the knife but partially hollow and can then be used to make a spear, both these knives are 7″ plus blades. I only carry Schraade folding knives in the pocket or survival kit as a back-up blade, and always have a knife sharpener with me. Look after your blades and they will live on forever if you pay for a decent one.

  3. I’ve tried a lot of different knives over the years and the design/style I seem to keep coming back to is a 5″ Fixed blade with drop or clip point and a nice sweep along the cutting edge. Long enough to do some slicing, not too long for delicate work. I don’t like a guard on it as it can interfere with the variety of grips I use and cuts I make when processing game. I don’t want crevices where gut goo and or tallow can collect – NO jimping! It needs to provide good grip when hands are wet with blood and or cold and clean up easy with a swish in the creek or a splash from the canteen. I like a thinner blade that what is popular these days with a taper or scandi grind. No gut hooks – good for unzipping a deer but in the way the rest of the time. I try to make all my cuts in the hide edge outward as it cuts less fur = cleaner meat. Cuts on the legs and high on the neck are made with inward slices through the hide. I try to do those with the rear edge of the blade as they are the most dulling cuts and save point and sweep for skinning, outward hide cuts and removing meat.

    My current hunting knife gets year round use – mostly kitchen duty (not just game) but has also aided in shelter building and fire starting (tinder prep and ferrocium rod). I’ve circled back to a high carbon blade though stainless works find too.

    Folding knives are fine but if water is scarce putting it back in my pocket after field dressing larger game will develop a ripe smell probably before you can get home to do laundry. The old Buck 110 is a dandy example, though a bit heavy for the pocket.

    One more tip I’ve learned. The more big critters you cut up the more likely it is you will nick yourself and I’ve found electrical tape works well to close up the wound and let you finish the job without over doing the blood brother ritual. When you’re tired, cold, hungry, wet, fighting the dark and/or being in a hurry is when it is most likely going to happen. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast…

    Good luck to everyone this year!

  4. Black electrical tape works wonders on small wounds and deep cuts and more. I’ve been doing sheet metal for 15 years and it never let me down. I think there’s something in the adhesive but I’m not sure.

    Anyway, I’ve spilt enough blood on the floor, and never had an infection when treated with electric tape



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