Throughout history people have hunted for both survival and pleasure, and while the tools we employ may have changed and advanced, one item has stood the test of time – the hunting knife. Every hunter knows that a quality knife will not only make the hunting process easier and more enjoyable, but can also help the hunter immensely in a survival situation. The questions are, then; what are the characteristics of a good hunting knife, what types of knives are on the market, and which types work best for specific types of hunting?
There are two main types of hunting knives – fixed blade and folding knives. Fixed blade knives are generally the more rugged and reliable of the two, such as the Coast Bowie Knife, a stainless steel Bowie blade, hardwood handle, and leather sheath. Another great fixed blade is the Puma Rolled Stag White Hunter, a 10.25 inch stainless steel blade with a genuine rolled stag horn handle. They are also very easy to clean, a plus for any hunter with limited resources. However, fixed blade knives are generally bulkier, heavier, and potentially dangerous if not packed and handled properly. If you are planning on doing a lot of hiking or climbing during your hunting trip you might want to steer clear of a fixed blade, or invest in a high-quality sheath.
Folding blade knives are strong and durable enough for most hunting purposes. There are two main types of folding knives – lock-backs and pocketknives. Most lock-back folding blades have the strength and reliability of fixed blade knives and are safer to pack and carry, such as the Coast Folding Knife, an 8.75 inch, titanium coated lock-back. Many lock-back blades offer one hand operation, a useful feature for any hands-on hunter. Lock-back blades are also much safer than regular pocketknives, as there is no risk of the blade flipping back and cutting your palm or fingers.
Pocketknives, however, are usually more versatile than lock-back or fixed-blade knives. They are more compact and easy to carry, such as the Coast Grandpa Brands Burnt Bone Lockback Pocket Knife. This stainless steel clip-point blade works just as well as its larger counterparts for common hunting needs, such as skinning and gutting game. Another great model is the Puma Micro Stag, a mere 4.25 inch knife with a stainless steel drop point blade.
When deciding what type of hunting knife to use, remember; practicality is most important. It may be tempting to invest hundreds of dollars in a ten-inch fixed blade monster, but the knife may prove too large and cumbersome to use in common hunting scenarios. Most hunters don’t need anything larger than a four- to five-inch blade; sometimes even a three-inch blade will suffice.
Of course, it doesn’t matter what type of knife you choose if you don’t take proper care of it. It is extremely important to clean your blade after each use. This can be as simple a process as wiping it down with a rag for fixed-blades, or, if using an intricate folding blade, employing special cleaning tools to remove blood, dirt, and debris from the knife.
It is important to make sure your blade is sharp before you need to use it. Some fixed-blades have blade sharpeners in their sheaths, though you will most likely have to sharpen the blade at home or at your campsite. Blade sharpeners can be relatively compact and inexpensive. Durable, harness-leather sheaths with snap closing usually run anywhere from five to ten dollars and heavy-duty Nylon sheaths cost about the same. Knife sharpeners have a wider price range, with the most basic diamond sharpeners running for around ten dollars. If you will be taking the sharpener along with you on your trip – a smart idea for any hunter – you will probably want to avoid getting a large, expensive sharpener.
Trends and technologies in hunting will change with the times; there’s no doubt about that. But the essence of the high-quality, reliable hunting knife will never change. Investing in a well-made fixed or folding blade knife will improve the quality of your hunting trip and make the experience much more enjoyable.
~Ben Anton, 2008