One of the most important parts of hunting is skinning the prey after the kill. To do this, you need the best skinning knife out there. Here are a few candidates.
Hunting is a beloved pastime for many people. One of the more interesting parts of the hobby is the need to clean and skin the hide of your hunted game. Whether you are into sport or for food, you cannot call yourself a proper hunter unless you can properly handle your prey.
Skinning and cleaning is probably the messiest and most difficult part of hunting. One of the ways to make it easier is by using a good skinning knife. An excellent knife can part skin, dress muscle and bone, and reduce a lot of the heavy work that you have to do.
Buying the best skinning knife should be one of your priorities when you are preparing for a hunt. Knife makers make it difficult though. This is because they release hundreds of skinning knife products on the market. It can be hard to make a choice from all those possible options.
Table of Contents
- Things To Consider For Best Skinning Knife
- Best Skinning Knife in 2021 – Reviews
Things To Consider For Best Skinning Knife
The shape of the blade of your skinning knife is very important. It can affect how the skinning process goes. This is because different animals have different ways in which the skin attaches to the body. For example, animals of the deer family, which includes elk and moose, have skin that connects to the body only with a thin white membrane.
This means that the only important part of the blade when skinning these is its sharp tip. Drop point or clip point blades can deliver on this front. However, some animals have thick layers of fat underneath their skin. This requires a sharper and wider edge since you’ll have to cut through all that fat. Here is where wide blade shapes are better.
Another important factor to consider is how the blade is. This is because it can affect which animals you can skin effectively. For short knives, you should focus your efforts on small game, like rabbits or squirrels. If you hunt larger game, you’ll want a skinning knife that covers a lot more area quickly, which is where longer knives come in.
You do not want to skin an animal with a blunt knife. Skinning requires a very sharp blade so that it can slice through muscle, bone, and tissue with little effort. Blade sharpness is a combination of the steel used for the knife and the sharpening technique.
Different manufacturers have a variety of the two. You’ll want a skinning knife that keeps its edge so pick a steel that is durable yet also easy to sharpen when necessary.
When you exert force into your knife, it all goes through the handle. This is why it is important to have a good solid grip on your knife. You’ll want something ergonomically-designed so that you can hold it in a variety of positions. You’ll be doing your skinning on the hard ground so you’ll want to be as comfortable as possible.
These factors are the main ones any potential buyer should look at when checking for the best skinning knife for themselves. To further assist you in your search, here’s some reviews of the top knives in the market right now.
Best Skinning Knife in 2021 – Reviews
1. Tops Knives Tom Brown Tracker 3
The Tops Knives Tom Brown Tracker #3 is a rather interesting addition to this list. This is because it is not technically a skinning knife.
It’s a general purpose survival knife. This means that it can skin your game, yes, but it is also for cutting and slicing in general.
The one thing that you can be sure about this knife is that it is very durable. As a survival knife, it tests out in a wide variety of conditions. It is another modified clip-point blade. The upper part is now a sawback, allowing you to cut wood and tougher materials that a single chop won’t be able to handle.
The entire knife looks pretty nice actually. Tops Knives went for the tactical look and this model nails it with its black-and-silver dual-tone. The effect is actually pretty intimidating.
For skinning purposes, the blade is actually pretty good. This knife uses stainless steel for its base metal and this means its pretty good at retaining its edge. Even the sawback is useful. It allows you to cut bone without blunting the cutting edge of your blade.
The length of the blade also helps. Measuring 5 inches, it is a bit longer than most traditional skinning knives. However, it does allow you to dig deep into the carcass when cutting.
- Nice Design. The blade is pretty good and long. It will help a lot in skinning large game. The addition of the sawback is ingenious though.
- Looks Great. If you’re a fan of the tactical look, this is the skinning knife for you.
- Handle. The handle has grooves laid in. This allows for a better grip.
- Not Dedicated to Skinning. Skinning knife designs are specific for a purpose. As a general survival knife, you may need to adapt a bit to get this knife working perfectly.
2. Bark River Fox
If there’s any knife on the market that deserves being called the best, it is the Bark River Fox. Skinning is just one of the tasks it does well. Sold as a general hunting/survival knife, this custom knife is useful for all hunting tasks.
What makes the Bark River Fox special is its makers dedication to performance and customization.
The blade’s design is for maximum utility, while also ensuring general sharpness. It uses a basic drop-point blade shape, but the difference is in the sharpness and the durability.
You can pick from three different steel variations for the blade: Elmax stainless steel, A2 high carbon tool steel, and CPM 3V. All of these are high-performance materials. They will then be ground to sharpness with a flat grind technique. This hones the blade to a fine edge that will cut cleanly.
The blade itself is around 4 inches and can shave hairs off your face with a swipe. The handle for the blade is up to you. You can choose specific designs that fit your grip, while also picking out what materials to use. By the time that you receive your Bark River Fox, this knife will be definitely just for you.
- Customization. Your Bark River Fox will be ideal for your purposes thanks to the choices you make.
- High-quality. The Bark River brand is a small company that specializes in high-quality products. You can be sure that when your knife arrives that you will be using it for life. The makers even added a lifetime guarantee on it.
- Great Performance. It’s not all hype. This knife really performs well in a variety of hunting tasks.
- Availability. You may find this hard to find on the market.
3. Benchmade 15001-2 Saddle MTN Skinner
Benchmade makes some of the best knives out there. The Benchmade 15001-2 Saddle MTN Skinner is a prime example of their craft. Any hunter will find it easy to fall in love with this blade.
Let’s begin with the blade design. This knife uses a modified clip-point shape. This means that it looks like someone clipped off the first third of the knife.
Benchmade added serrations on the on the blunt edge to provide another surface for cutting. The length is an improvement from the old 4.17 inches blade. It is now 4.2 inches. It may not seem like much, but the small difference means a bit more area covered when skinning. It is ideal for dressing and skinning medium-sized game.
Hunters will absolutely love the CPM-S3OV. This is top-quality stainless steel and endures corrosion and is pretty tough in its own right. However, unlike other durable blades, this particular steel retains the edge for a longer time than most. You won’t even need to sharpen this knife for months when you first take it out of the box.
Finally, the handle is solid dymonwood. It provides you with a good solid grip and has enough leverage for you to push this cleanly across the skin. All this combines to make an excellent skinning knife.
- The Benchmade Brand. Benchmade knives are all well-made. This one is no exception. You’ll be happy with the quality of this knife once you see it in action.
- Sharpness. It comes sharp out of the box. You can take it out and shave off some arm hairs with it the moment you get it. It doesn’t dull easily either.
- Solid Grip. The wooden handle feels good in your hand while skinning.
- Sheath. Though the knife comes with a sheath, it isn’t exactly the best fit. Better to buy a new one to accommodate this knife.
4. Buck Knives 0103BRS Cocobola Skinner Knife
Buck Knives are another great knife brand that keeps on delivering. Their skinning knife line is over 30 years old now and it is still a favorite of many a hunter.
The Buck Knives 0103BRS Cocobola Skinner Knife is one of their coolest-looking designs.
This is your standard Buck Knife 103 model. The big difference is the use of cocobola and dymonwood for the handle. An ordinary 103 usually has an all-black phenolic handle. It works well, but nothing like wood under your hands to get a solid grip on a knife.
It still retains all the things that people love about the 103. First, there’s the blade shape. It looks like a clip-point blade, but it is wider than normal. The tip is still sharp and narrow. However, the larger body lets you cut into thick layers of fat and muscle to skin cleanly.
The good blade shape is nothing without solid steel behind it. Buck uses 420HC steel for the blade and it is durable. This makes it ideal for work with large game. Cut it against bone and it will still retain its sharp edge. You will only need to sharpen it maybe once a year or so if you’re lazy.
The handle is also great. The solid wood grip gives you a lot of leverage. The brass pommel is a lot better than the original aluminum and can be used for some hard crushing action.
- Wood Grip. Wood beats smoother materials when it comes to grips. It is also a lot better-looking.
- 420HC Steel. The durable steel of the blade will ensure it retains its sharpness for a long time.
- Wide Blade. The wide belly of the blade lets it cut deeper than other knives.
- Wasted Space. There’s a big chunk of metal between the guard and the blade itself. Some people like putting their thumbs there for a better grip, but it would have been better to have more edge.
5. Buck Knives 113 Ranger Hunting Knife
The bigger brother of the 103 from Buck, the Buck 113 is the Ranger Skinner model. This particular model comes with a walnut handle and I have to admit, it looks great.
However, you don’t just buy a knife on looks alone. Don’t worry – this knife continues the Buck tradition of being a great knife.
This one is a drop-pint blade, which means the upper part slopes down. The design is pretty good for its main purpose. This is a skinning knife for delicate work. If you care about the skin or fur, this is the one you’d use. However, it is also pretty strong. You can even use it to do the gutting of large game. Thanks to the Buck method of tempering, the edge retains its sharpness better than most knives.
The blade is solid 420HC stainless steel. This means its durable for the long term. The length of the blade is just a little over 3 inches. That’s pretty short but you only need that much to reach under the layers of skin.
The walnut handle and the brass bolster complete the package. The ergonomic handle lets you get a really good grip on this knife. It also has a lanyard hoop so you can string a lanyard through it for neck carrying.
- Good Design. Mainly intended for delicate skinning work, this blade will cut clean and leave little trace.
- Keeps an edge. Retaining the trademark Buck durability, you won’t need to sharpen this knife as much.
- Impressive Looks. If there was any reason to tip you into buying this, it is the looks, The stainless steel blade, the brass bolsters, and the walnut handle give you that old-school look of an American classic.
- Small. It is pretty small compared to other skinning knives.
6. Havalon Piranta BOLT Skinning Knife
The Piranta Bolt from Havalon is an interesting choice for a skinning knife. This is actually a fillet knife that you most usually see with fishermen.
Hunters adopted it because of one thing: this knife sharp, sharp, sharp. You’ll learn to love it when you put it to good use.
The first time you see a Piranta Bolt, you won’t think you’re seeing a knife. The orange plastic handle hides the fold-out blade well. When deployed, you see a non-traditional blade design. The closest that it looks like is a surgical scalpel and it is exactly what it does.
When you’re field dressing and skinning your kill, you’re essentially doing post-mortem surgery. This is exactly what the Piranta Bolt allows you to do. It will cut muscle, tissue, and skin cleanly. This lets you get all the offal out easily. Thanks to the short and thin blade, you can even reach inside the rib cage.
It does take its toll though. On a single large animal like an elk, you may end up needing to replace the blade three times. Fortunately, this knife comes with over 12 replacement blades in the pack. Havalon hit it out of the park with this one and this is a good addition to any hunter’s toolkit.
- Sharp. This is a surgical scalpel of a knife. You will cut through most things with it and this is useful when you’re skinning game.
- Replaceable. No need to sharpen the blade anymore. Just throw it away and replace with a new one.
- Ambidextrous. No matter what hand you are using, you will be comfortable with this knife.
- The Handle. Unlike other skinning knives, the cheap plastic handle feels cheap. It performs its job adequately, but it is not as good as others on the market.
7. Buck Knives 113 Ranger Hunting Knife
The Mossberg Fixed Skinning Knife is an eyecatcher for one reason: the blade. No other blade on the market has that unique hook on top. Pull this out of its sheath and you’ll look like a doctor meaning business.
Let’s talk about the blade design. The Mossberg uses a modified drop-point blade design. The hook on top is what changes things.
It is a gut hook and allows for simple gutting. You just hook it into the underbelly of the game and pull. This guts the animal cleanly and simply.
The blade itself is blackened stainless steel. It gives off the tactical vibe that has become so popular among knife enthusiasts lately. However, make no mistake in thinking that this blade is all looks. This knife is sharper than other knives on the market – mostly because it uses surgical stainless steel. So be careful with it.
The blade length is pretty short and marks it for delicate work. Just a little over 3 inches, it is ideal for skinning small and medium-size game. Larger game will take some time, but it will get the job done.
The handle is a bit tacky though. Continuing the tactical theme, it has a camouflage pattern. It allows for a good grip, but it is not exactly ideal.
- Gut Hook. The addition of a gut hook is a pleasing touch. Most of the time, you need a separate knife when gutting. However, this allows you to do the job all in one go.
- Sharp. This knife is surprisingly sharp. You’ll cut cleanly through skin and muscle with this one.
- Small. This is definitely a knife for delicate work. You’ll appreciate the better control that the size gives you as you try not to damage your kill.
- The Look. It looks a bit too “tactical.” It may seem like overkill with the camouflage and the blackened blade. However, it still manages to be effective.
However, if you manage to get your hands on one, you will be quite happy with your purchase.
A Final Slice of Advice
When you’re looking for the best skinning knife, there are always a lot of factors to consider. However, the most important one is this: find a knife that you are comfortable with. Hunting is a hobby and it is done for pleasure. Don’t make it a chore by using something you do not like. Find a knife that fits well in your hands and that you can work with. You will be sure to have a fine time with it.