When it comes to choosing a skinning knife, your options can be staggering and it can really be daunting with the amount of choices that are available on the market. You may like the look and style of one but when you go to try it out, you may find it to be completely useless so it is very important that you make an informed decision before you go out and make a purchase. You should really try and look for a quality blade rather than a cheap one because in reality it will last you longer and therefore save you more money on replacing the knife.
Factors to Consider for a Skinning Knife
There are many factors that you want to look for when choosing a skinning knife but none is more important then edge retention. You want a blade that can not only get a razor sharp, face shaving quality blade but also want to make sure that it can retain that edge for long periods of time without having to be constantly sharpening the knife. Furthermore, you want this to be a thin knife as these are more favorable for skinning.
You also want to look at other factors such as the handle to make sure that it is ergonomic and will be comfortable for you to hold. No point buying a flashy looking knife with a beautiful rosewood handle, to only find it slip out of your hand every three seconds when you use it. You have to factor in that there is going to be a lot of blood and sometimes you will be skinning in the rain and as a result you are going to need one which gives you a really solid grip.
Another important factor to ensuring that you have the best skinning knife is to make sure that you take proper care of it. Doesn’t matter if you buy the most expensive knife out there if you leave it out in the rain/dirt or don’t wash it after use. Looking after your knife will ensure that it is not only sharp and therefore you don’t have to waste time sharpening it all the time, but also will mean that your knife is going to last you much longer before you need to replace it. Below I have gone through some of my favorite skinning knives.
Buck 103 Skinner – $40
One of my favorite skinning knives would have to be the Buck 103 Skinner. This bad boy has been around for a while and is a top quality blade. The blade features high-quality 420HC steel which can maintain a really sharp edge, which is a vital factor as I stated above. However, this is not the only feature that makes this blade so desirable. What I also love about this knife is its extra wide blade which makes skinning a real breeze. And I mean really easy, the shape allows you to easily get under the skin and works great at skinning not only white tail, but also heavier skinned animals such as Moose, Caribou fox and seals (if that’s your hunting style).
The only problem that I have with this knife is the handle. Like I said before, you want a handle that isn’t going to become slippery when wet or when the animals skin is really oil. However as this blade features a phenolic handle it really doesn’t have the best grip. That is why when using it you really need to make sure that you try and keep it dry otherwise it can become a real pain. I wouldn’t have normally included this on the list, but the extra wide blade really does make it a top notch skinning knife and if you are able to keep the handle dry – one of the best out there.
- 4″ Extra-Wide 420HC Steel Skinning Blade. The tip is narrow, while the curved belly aids in getting through thick layers
- 8 1/4″ Overall Length, 4.3 oz. Weight
- Black Phenolic Handle with Aluminum Pommel / Guard
- Includes Genuine Leather Sheath
- Buck Forever Warranty, Made in the USA
Buck Vanguard Fixed Blade – $60
One thing you will notice is that Buck really do make a solid hunting knife. I don’t if they thought it was their responsibility because of their name but damn can they make a good knife. The Buck Vanguard is clearly solid evidence of this and is really a top notch hunting knife. Like the 103 skinner, the Buck Vanguard is made from high-quality 420HC steel which is razor sharp right out of the box and with a quick sharpen, it can be face shaving sharp. This knife will retain an edge really nicely as well which is an added bonus. However, unlike the 103, it doesn’t have the widest blade, don’t get me wrong, it is wide as hell but not as wide as the 103.
However, again unlike the 103 Skinner, the Buck Vanguard actually comes with a textured rubber handle which you can get a really solid grip on, even when your hands are covered in blood and oil making it better than the 103 in this regard. Furthermore, the finger guard allows you to choke up on the blade a bit and helps with really precise skinning which again is an added bonus. With the Buck vanguard, your friends will be in awe at how quickly you are able to skin a kill and will be lining up to get one of their own.
- 4-1/8″ Drop Point Blade with 420HC Steel for Excellent Strength and Edge Retention. Overall Length 8-1/2″
- Classic, Fixed Blade Field Knife for Big Game Hunters and Outdoor Enthusiasts. Weight 6.3 oz.
- Heritage Walnut Contoured Handle with Polished Brass Butt / Guard make maneuvering through field dressing a breeze.
- Includes Genuine Leather Fitted Sheath for safe and secure transportation on your belt or in a bag
- Buck Forever Warranty, Made in the USA
Spyderco Bill Moran Drop Point Skinning Knife – $100
Whilst a little more expensive, the Spyerdoco Bill Moran drop point is one hell of a fixed blade skinning knife. This is an extremely lightweight skinning knife that will make quick work of any skinning job you put in front of it. What I really like about it is its full-flat-ground VG-10 stainless steel blade with a plain cutting edge. This is a really fine knife and allows you to easily get under the skin of any game that needs doing. The steel is top quality, like the 420HC and will be able to keep a sharp edge for a long time.
Another feature that I love about this knife is the fact that its handle is shaped to fit the palm of your hand. This allows you to get a really solid grip that makes it feel as though it is an attachment of your hand rather than a knife and allows for precise skinning. Also, as the handle is a fiberglass-reinforced-nylon handle, your hand won’t be slipping all over the place.
- Made using the highest quality materials
- Tested for quality and durability
- The most trusted name in you cutlery needs
- Lightweight hunting/camping knife designed by knifemaking legend Bill Moran
- Drop-point blade design is ideal for game preparation and other outdoor chores
- Full-flat-ground VG-10 stainless steel blade with plain (PlainEdge) cutting edge
- Injection-molded fiberglass-reinforced-nylon handle with Kraton rubber inserts for a secure grip
Overall, these three knives are top quality skinning knives and are all going to allow you to do the job extremely quickly. However if I have to choose (and I do) I would go with the Spyderco Moran just because of the handle which is top quality. I would have preferred the 103 skinner but like I said before the handle is not as grippy as I would have preferred and therefore can become quite tedious. However, if you are able to keep it dry then I would definitely recommend that one.