What to Consider when Buying a Hunting Knife

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What to Consider when Buying a Hunting Knife

When it comes to your bug out gear, everyone's going to have their own preferences on what will actually make it in their packs. But one thing that's for sure, whenever you're going to be spending any time at all on the road, you need a good knife. You'd be surprised at just how many uses it'll have around camp. Perhaps you need to cut up some paracord to secure your shelter, or to skin and clean a kill. You may even need it to fight off a wild animal, or keep any people with ill-intent at bay. It sounds tough, but when the SHTF we still don't know just how bad it'll all get. All of this got me thinking about today's post. What actually goes into the decision to buy the "right knife?" I mean, I've got my APE Survival Knife Card with me at all times, but we're talking about everyday use. You need a tool that'll come in handy in every situation. To ensure you're making the right decision, today we'll cover the five questions you need to ask before going ahead and buying a knife.

What are you going to use it for?

This is a smart mentality you should actually be using for everything you buy. Just be practical. What function is this knife going to have around camp? You will need different knives if you're cutting a path through thick brush, or filleting a fish. They're not all the same, so think about the situations where you'll actually need it. At the end of the day, it may even make sense to have a couple of different knives, like a machete to forge a trail, along with a smaller knife for skinning animals.

How big does your knife need to be?

We're not talking Rambo here, and you probably don't need the largest knife displayed in the store. Think about the type of animals you're going to be hunting, and choose your knife accordingly. A large knife would work well to butcher say a pig or a deer, but you're probably going to want something a little smaller if you're targeting squirrels and rabbits. Getting the right sized knife will make skinning and cleaning a far easier job.

Are you choosing design over function?

Just because a knife looks "nice" or "cool," it doesn't mean it's going to be right for the job. You should never dismiss functionality over appearance, because your knife is simply a tool. If the design detracts from how comfortably it fits into your hand, or how difficult it'll be to clean after you've used it, I'd recommend against buying it. You want a knife that's tough and durable, with a handle that's easy to clean. Synthetic handles are fine, so long as the knife sits well in your hand.

Pick a blade design that works

Personally I'd not go with a folding blade as they're a little bit weaker than their fixed-blade counterparts, but that's just me. What you need to think about is the type of blade design that'll best suit your needs. Again, it's going to depend on the type of hunting you plan to do.
  • Drop point blades are strong, thick and the most durable of the lot. You can use these to butcher and skin large animals, and I've even used mine to split the ribs of a deer when I didn't have a saw in my kit. It wasn't the prettiest job, but it worked.
  • Clip point blades are a little thinner and flatter, but because of this they're not really recommended as a hunting knife. They make great "general purpose" knives, so you're not dulling the blade of your hunting knife with all the everyday jobs around camp.
Or you could just get a specialized skinning knife. Full disclosure, I am a bit of a knife fan and I've probably got far too many, but any tools that help me get a job done quicker or easier are winners in my book. Skinning knives make it very easy to separate the meat from the skin of any animal you've caught.

What blade material has been used

When I buy products I like to put my money into quality, so I can rely on them in the field. With knives, the type of steel that's gone into the blade is important, because it'll determine how easy it is to sharpen, how well it'll hold an edge, and how it'll hold up after years and years of use.
  • S30V. This high-vanadium steel is tough, and while a little hard to sharpen it'll retain its edge far better than most other materials.
  • 154CM. This high-carbon steel is hard which allows it to retain its edge, but it's also one of the more brittle steels so I'd recommend only using it on smaller knives.
  • VG-10. A stainless steel that's comparable to 154CM, however it's a little better at keeping corrosion at bay, and it'll hold an edge longer.
  • 420HC. This medium-carbon stainless steel is very corrosion resistant, but it's not as hard as other types which makes it easy to sharpen, yet it won't hold an edge for as long.
It doesn't matter if you're new to survival or an experienced woodsman. You will need a good hunting knife in your kit, and in addition to making your next hunting trip a little easier, if you're ever in the situation where you're lost, stranded, or needing to defend yourself, having a good knife could make all the difference.