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What could be better than struggling for a whole day, only to end up with deer on the barbecue around a campfire with your friends in the woods? Exactly. For this job to be complete, you will also require a professional deer skinning knife.
Choosing the best deer skinning knife should not really be an overwhelming process. But then, a simple search over the Internet will give you plenty of results. There are so many features and designs, that you barely know what to choose. Here is everything you need to know to make a good decision.
Overview of a Deer Skinning Knife
You do not want a good looking knife that barely works. Instead, you want a perfectly functional unit that will make your job a breeze – the faster you can throw that piece of meat on the fire, the better.
A skinning knife has a classic profile, yet there are a few other variations too. You will need a thin point, as well as a relatively sounded base. The round design is what makes the knife efficient or useless for two reasons. First, it will maximize the surface area to use. Second, it minimizes the amount of effort and movement to skin the deer.
Deciding on the shape is often a matter of personal preferences. A slight oval design is usually more than enough, as long as the edges come together with a very sharp tip. On the same note, you will find hunters who take this shape to another level by opting for a super exaggerated round style. Some modern hunters may also rely on narrow points.
A narrow blade could be handy when you need some detailed work. It might be useful for small animals. When you go for deer or elk, you will also have to skin large sections, hence the necessity of a wide blade.
As for the actual size, you do not need a sword to do it. The blade does not have to be too big. You might as well get the job done with a couple of inches in length. Some blades may go up to five inches. You need exquisite sharpness, so opt for a material that can sharpen without too much effort. Plus, the blade will be exposed to corrosive elements, so corrosion and rust resistance will help.
Now that you understand the principles, what is the best deer skinning knife out there?
2021’s 5 Best Deer Skinning Knives
ESEE Knives Ashley
Balance and versatility – Made in the USA and weighing just over five ounces, Esee’s best deer skinning knife will not let you down, whether you use it for skinning, hunting, camping, or survival adventures. It is extremely well balanced and feels natural as you hold and use it. It is also available in two different colors – micarta and orange. No matter what color you choose, quality standards are unchanged.
Classic blade – The blade follows a classic profile, which is ideal for hunting. It has a super sharp tip and a slightly curved belly to go through the skin without affecting the meat. It measures 3.5 inches in length, and it is made of 1095 high carbon steel. The carbon steel ensures razor sharpness and excellent edge retention, yet it is not as good as stainless steel in terms of rust and corrosion resistance. It has a black oxide washed stone finish.
Comfortable handle – The handle measures 4.75 inches in length. It is a bit curved for a more ergonomic approach, hence its natural feel. There are a few bolsters holding everything in place for great stability. Available in two colors, it has very mild striations. Not only do they look good, but their main role is to ensure the knife will never slip out of your hands.
Extras and care – The knife is a fixed blade design. There is not much to worry about – it comes with its own sheath. It is made of natural leather. It is thick and durable, but more importantly, it keeps the knife secured in place – it will never go loose. Make sure you clean the knife manually and avoid cleaning it in a dishwasher. Since the blade is based on high carbon steel, it might help to oil it when the knife is not in use for long periods of time.
- Superior sharpness and edge retention
- Excellent sizing proportions for stability
- Feels natural and comfortable
- Durable nonslip handle
- Great value for money
- High carbon steel requires a bit of maintenance against corrosion
Buck Knives 113 Ranger Skinner
Classic and reliable – Made in the USA and built with durability in mind, there is a reason wherefore this skinning knife is considered a classic. It is less likely to let you down, regardless of what you are skinning. It is so natural in your hand that you can use it for pretty much anything, from hunting operations to survival activities. It weighs just over five ounces, and it feels like an extension of your arm.
Exquisite blade – Based on 420HC steel, the blade will never rust or corrode. It has a drop point skinner design and a razor-sharp edge. Edge retention is not even worth being mentioned, while durability and strength will not disappoint. All in all, the blade measures 3.125 inches. It has a narrow tip and a wide belly with a soft curve – ideal for smooth skinning without accidentally slicing through the hide.
Ergonomic handle – The handle is worth some attention too. After all, what would a knife be without a reliable handle? You want it to feel natural and handy when in need. It is based on natural ebony and features a brass bolster. You also have a small lanyard hole. Its ergonomic design ensures the knife will never slip out of your hands. It measures about 5.3 inches in length.
Extras and maintenance – Since this is a fixed blade knife, you will obviously need a sheath for it for protection and to prevent injuries. Luckily, you do not have to search for too long because the knife comes with its own natural leather sheath. It has a belt loop for easy carrying and allows easy access. In terms of maintenance, make sure you only clean it manually and never in a dishwasher, or it might affect the edge retention.
- Feels natural and comfortable
- Excellent blade in durability and quality
- Well balanced
- Edge specifically designed for skinning
- Suitable for multiple applications
- Handle finishing may not be the most attractive part of this knife, but it does not affect its capabilities
Case XX WR
Versatile applications – You are less likely to find too many folding knives designed with skinning purposes, but Case has done a pretty good job at it. This knife features a beautiful appearance when closed, as well as two different blades. It is excellent for a series of different activities. Apart from skinning, you can also use it for hunting, camping, or small uses around your home.
Excellent blades – There are two different blades, and each of them has a deep nail clip. They are easy to open and stay fixed, but also easy to close without too much effort. Blades are just under five inches in length. You have a classic clip, as well as a skinner. They are based on chrome vanadium steel – not only does it look good, but it also features a great resistance against rust and corrosion.
Beautiful handle – The handle measures 5.25 inches in length. It is alright for both small and large hands and ensures a good grip. It has an ergonomic shape for stable uses. In terms of quality standards, it is made of chestnut bone. It has some striations on it, so it will not slip out of your hands – even if they are wet or sweaty. There are no automated mechanisms, so blades must be opened and closed manually.
Care and maintenance – It is highly recommended to clean the knife after each use. Even if it is not soiled, small particles of dirt can have the blades rub against each other, and they can get scratched. As for washing it, do it manually. Cleaning it in a dishwasher may ruin the blades. Let it dry thoroughly before closing and storing it. It is also worth mentioning that while it is a folding knife, it has a sheath as well.
- Two different blades for versatile applications
- Durable and good looking design
- Striated and nonslip handle
- Well put together and aligned
- Feels comfortable to use
- Might feel a bit too large for a pocket folding knife
Ruko Muela Whitetail-8S
Classic and reliable – This is the type of knife you would want when someone asks you about three things you would take with you on an island. It is super versatile and features an extremely durable design. It is one of the classics in this industry, and it is easy to tell why when you hold it. It only comes in one design, but it is worth noting that the natural handle ensures a different appearance for every single knife.
Versatile blade – The blade is great for all kinds of activities involving games or your hunting applications. The tip is super sharp, and the belly is well curved for an easy skinning operation. You also have a gut hook. It is made of X50CrMoV15 German stainless steel – both rust and corrosion-resistant. Altogether, the blade is 3.125 inches in length – compact enough for skinning operations.
Unique handle – Every knife is unique when it comes to the handle. The handle is almost five inches long. It is made of red stag antler – raw and little finished. This is the aspect that makes each knife unique. With all these, handles are made to be ergonomic, while the rough finishing provides an excellent grip, even if your hands are wet or sweaty.
Care and extras – The knife must be washed manually for edge retention and never in a dishwasher. As for extras, it comes with its own full-grain leather sheath that matches like a glove. It is also worth noting that the blade has good protection by leaving room for the finger on it. This kind of grip also helps with stability.
- Super comfortable to use
- Durable materials
- Unique appearance
- Features its own sheath
- Amazing value for money
- Might be a bit dangerous for the less experienced user
Buck Knives 119
High-quality standards – You can never go wrong with Buck Knives. Possibly the best deer skinning knife from Buk Knives along with the model113. This knife is also made in the USA and built to deliver. It looks a bit old fashioned and maybe too fancy to take out on a hunting trip, but once you start using it, you can tell the difference between quality and random knives. It is excellent for numerous other applications out there.
Fancy handle – The handle is quite attractive, but its functionality makes it even better. It is straight and slightly curved on the inside, so it feels ergonomic and comfortable to hold. It has professional brass handguard protection against accidental cuts, not to mention the brass pommel. All in all, the handle measures 4.5 inches and ensures a stable experience – no slipping at all. You can get it in two different options – classic wood or black.
Excellent blade – The blade is six inches in length. Given the size, it may feel a bit too much for skinning, but it does an incredible job. You have a plain edge, a clip point shape, and a traditional stainless steel appearance. In other words, the knife will successfully resist rust and corrosion. The sharp tip and the slightly curved belly (before going straight towards the handle) are the two features making the blade great for skinning.
Extras and maintenance – You cannot go wrong with Buck Knives, and since most fixed blade knives come with sheaths, this one makes no exception either. It has a solid and thick leather sheath that will never go loose. The knife is secure and easy to pull out. As for care and maintenance, make sure you always clean it manually, rather than in a dishwasher.
- High-quality materials and durability
- Good grip in all kinds of situations
- Elegant appearance with rough capabilities
- Excellent value for money
- Available in a few different colors
- Might feel a bit too long for skinning, but the shape and design of the blade compensate for the size
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I really need a skinning knife?
If you think about it, you could use a pocket knife or even a butter knife to skin a deer. On the same note, you can also drive some nails with your shoe. However, these are definitely not the best tools for your jobs. A deer skinning knife comes with specific characteristics to make the job easy and efficient.
What makes a deer skinning knife so important?
There are more reasons wherefore a deer skinning knife is mandatory. A random knife may mutilate quality meat as you go, meaning you will waste lots of meat. Furthermore, this job should be done in no time. Every minute you waste will alter the flavor of your meat. The job itself is not the most pleasant one in the world – another reason to do it as quickly and efficiently as you can.
Is the gut hook mandatory in a deer skinning knife?
No, yet it tends to become an industry standard. The gut hook assists in the skinning process. You can make long cuts along the gut without piercing internal organs. The design is great, but the gut hook must be razor-sharp. You can get the job done without using a gut hook, though – it is not mandatory, it can be helpful.
Deciding on the best deer skinning knife becomes much easier when you know what to look for. Once you have the right features, make sure you go through top-rated products with a good reputation, or you may end up with some surprises.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.