The 5 Best Hunting Knives to Buy Right Now

There comes a time in every guy’s life, especially if you’re the outdoor-minded sort, where he’s got to get back to basics and get down to business. We’re thinking specifically of all those pursuits in which the best hunting knife might come in handy. If your daily routine hasn’t been all that outdoor-minded as of late, it’s time to return to your roots and seek adventure in the great outdoors. It can be refreshing and inspirational, even if you’re not the most hunting-inclined (there are quite a few other uses for a great hunting knife in your daily gear haul, too).

On the other hand, maybe the state of the world has pushed you to hit the great wide open a bit more than usual (it’s socially distanced, without a doubt). Either way, the right gear is of the utmost importance, the best hunting knife included. You’d be surprised what a hunting knife can bring to your everyday carry, whether you hit the field bright and early or haul your gear out for hunting and camping trips for days at a time.

The best hunting knives fit right in like a puzzle, as we said before, with the rest of your outdoor gear.

The best hunting knives are a functionally designed companion to the rest of your hunting set-up, which hopefully includes some dependable field boots, pants packed with plenty of pockets and perhaps some camo gear to help you blend in with the elements. It’s kind of like putting together a puzzle, which means all the pieces have to fit just right. And as we always say, if ever you’ve ended up far afield and far away from home without the best gear to get you from point A to point B, you know it immediately.

That’s where the best hunting knives won’t let you down, not in the slightest. We’re not quite talking about something as extreme as a Rambo Survival Knife (probably one of the most recognizable hunting knives on the planet), but it doesn’t hurt to invest in a product that’s a bit more well-made than average, especially if you need to shake off some rust as you return to the great outdoors.

You might more commonly think of a hunting knife so famous, it’s known by one name, and one name only: The Bowie Knife, so named for pioneer James Bowie. It’s a knife that would set the stage for all other hunting knives, most commonly made with a steel blade for taking on all manner of frontier-focused activities. Your own pursuits are likely just a bit different than Mr. Bowie’s but a hunting knife is still of the essence when gutting, deboning or butchering (or cutting tied lines or rope… the list goes on and on).

There are various types of hunting knives, including ones that fold and ones that are made for specialty uses. Hunting knives are most often straight and built with a steel blade for extra durability. Some more closely resemble the type of knife you might carry in a sheath, and others are more compact. It’s all about finding the right hunting knife for how you expect to use it (although we know as well as anyone that plenty can happen in the great outdoors at any time).

The best hunting knives fit right in like a puzzle, as we said before, with the rest of your outdoor gear. It’s essential that you not forget your durable work pants, your rugged shirt jacket (for chilly fall days), shirts with proper insulation (again, for chilly fall days) and perhaps some work or tactical gloves. Think of it like a checklist of must-haves that you wouldn’t want to get caught without in the field these days.

Add a hunting knife to that list, and you’ll realize that things might even become a little easier out there in the woods or on the trail stalking prey and taking down trophies. At the very least, you’ll have acquired a durable new hunting essential that’s made to last (kind of like your other go-to picks for exploration and adventure).

And if we had to stress one point, we’d urge you to take the time to find the best hunting knife for you – it’s worth the extra effort, just as with building out the rest of your wardrobe and everyday gear haul.

So, which hunting knife is right for you, and how do you best find one to use for hunting and field exploration? Let’s tackle a few helpful basics first.

How to Find the Best Hunting Knife for Your Next Outdoor Adventure

  • Consider your use case: “Use case” is a funny way of pinpointing the exact ways in which you’ll end up incorporating said product into your life, but here, it’s vitally important. Some hunting knives are geared towards ultra-specific instances and others are more classic, like the straight hunting knives we mentioned earlier. While some hunting enthusiasts absolutely have multiple hunting knives at their disposal (sort of like another iteration of stocking your wardrobe with multiple waxed jackets or boots), it’s sometimes best to tailor your selection towards the ways in which you’ll use yours most frequently. Save time, energy and a few bucks by selecting one of the best hunting knives for your pursuits in the field.
  • Honor heritage: Hunting knives have been used for centuries upon centuries, and that’s an understatement. While many brands have brought their production and materials forwards into the 21st century, it’s always nice to shop with a company that knows its heritage and history, and leans into that by using time-honored processes. Opinel, for instance, is a highly reputable French brand that began making handsome knives in 1890, a process that continues today (more on them in a second). Because the art of knife-making is so subtle and exacting, brands with a long heritage know the process the best, and consistently demonstrate that knowledge. You want them on your side, to say the least.
  • Focus on form and function: Some knives, like other items in your rotation, aren’t all that cut out for the field or rather, for hunting specifically. So while you need a pocket knife in your everyday carry, you’re going to want something a bit longer and tougher for hunting. That doesn’t mean you should leave that pocket knife at home, but rather, add a hunting or outdoor knife to your rotation, as well. You see? Form and function stay top of mind.

Seasoned experts will likely already have a few hunting knives in mind based on the above criteria. The great news is, we feel the same way. These are a few of our favorites when it comes time to dive into the world of hunting knives.

The Best Hunting Knives to Add to Your Shopping List Now

Buck Knives Folding 110 Hunter Knife

Buck Knives Folding 110 Hunter Knife

From the careful and considered USA-made construction to the multitude of uses you can find for this durable hunting knife, it’s a mighty fine addition to your backpack before you step foot in the field again. A handsome genuine ebony handle and brass bolsters showcases the “above and beyond” approach taken by Buck Knives, while the stainless steel blade is exactly what’s required in a standout knife. Beyond that, it’s a folding knife able to be carried easily and kept handy on camping trips or other excursions.

Benchmade Saddle Mountain Fixed Blade Knife

Benchmade Saddle Mountain Fixed Blade Knife

Don’t overlook what great craftsmanship can do to elevate something as utilitarian as the hunting knife. Benchmade blends the best of both worlds with this handsome hunting, which seamlessly merges hard-working utility and eye-catching style into one compact, essential package. A stainless steel drop point blade is accented by an overall design featuring an “ergonomic shape will make the last cut feel just as effortless as the first.” And going back to what we said earlier about longevity and heritage? Well, this durable hunting knife has it in spades.

CRKT Minimalist Bowie Fixed Blade Knife

CRKT Minimalist Bowie Fixed Blade Knife

When we mentioned that most brands these days have brought their techniques and production into the 21st century, this is precisely what we meant. CRKT has come through with a minimalist knife bearing the name of that legendary pioneer who made the knife a staple of outdoor life on the great frontier. They’ve done so with modern materials and high-class design, too. The resin-infused fiber handle is durable and easy to grip, and the overall build of this knife suggests that what CRKT says really is true: It’s a “small knife built to handle big cutting tasks,” so try it on for size yourself.

L.L. Bean Allagash Hunting Folding Knife

L.L. Bean Allagash Hunting Folding Knife

It’s mighty fitting that L.L. Bean has developed a well-made hunting knife to compete with the best of ’em. After all, L.L. Bean is an outdoor gear maker most likely to be found on your feet and hopefully, on your shoulders during fall and winter hunting excursions. This folding hunting knife blends the type of reliable construction for which L.L. Bean is known with an agreeable price and top-notch quality. The zebra wood handle will develop its own patina over time, which is mighty reassuring: That means you’ll have this hunting knife for years to come.

Opinel No. 12 Explore Folding Knife

Opinel No. 12 Explore Folding Knife

Here’s where we get back into the heritage and high-quality design best epitomized by Opinel. Of course, with such a longstanding brand, versatility and ease of use are top of mind. In fact, you might say those two traits are the name of the game when it comes to a great deal of outdoor products, our favorite gear (and yours) among them. While this Opinel knife is moreso a multi-purpose outdoor knife, it’s still a highly valuable tool to bring with you anywhere in the field. It features a non-slip handle and even includes a built-in flint firestarter, and it also includes an emergency whistle and a steel cutting hook to handle rope and twine. You’ll start to wonder how you did anything on hunting trips without it.

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Beau is Brooklyn-based style and lifestyle writer. He covers menswear, gear, spirits, craft beer and music. When not writing, Beau can be found shopping for vinyl or sipping on a Brooklyn beer.

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