A skinning knife is a very useful tool, particularly for hunters and people who enjoy preparing their own meats. It gives you the opportunity to live a more independent lifestyle. To be free of the constraints of going to your local butcher and trusting them with the meat product you are interested in.
As with most tools, the skinning knife market is saturated with a range of quality from good to bad. Thankfully, we have done the research for you and this article will discuss how to make the right purchase to ensure you get the knife you want.
Firstly, you need to know the different types of skinning knives that are available. There are three primary types of skinning knife: folding knives, fixed blade knives and gut hooks.
A folding skinning knife is great when you want a small and compact blade for easy maneuverability. Some models also feature changeable blades, which makes them quite versatile.
Fixed blade skinning knives are what most skinners use. The primary difference between these knives and other hunting knives is the blade shape. Fixed blade skinning knives have a slightly rounded blade, giving you more control over the blade as you skin. Control is really important when skinning. Any false movement can result in a real mess.
Gut hooks are special knives with added features used for skinning and opening the abdomen without cutting through the organs inside. The gut hook can also be used as a regular skinner, making it very versatile.
As well as the above primary skinning knives, hybrids have been developed to incorporate two or all of these knives. So you need to choose which kind of skinning knife model you require before any other decision is made. Your skinning knife will mostly come down to what you are skinning. For example, a knife for skinning deer will be different to the knife you would use for skinning a rabbit.
A good skinning knife will have a strong and comfortable grip to ensure you don’t drop the knife. It will have a curve-ball blade, though you can also find straight blade skinning knives as well. Most importantly, you need an edge that will retain its razor sharpness. You really don’t want to be skinning an animal with a dull blade. A strong, steel blade is your best option.
Blade design is incredibly important because even the slightest change to a blade can really change your skinning performance. Bigger animals, such as deer, elk, moose and goat have hides that are loosely attached to the carcass by way of a thin membrane. This membrane is easily sliced and so only the tip on the knife is needed.
With this in mind, knives with a clip point or a drop point blade work best for skinning these animals. Other animals, such as wild boar, have hides that are attached by a layer of fat that’s quite fibrous when sliced. Trailing blades work best for animals like this because the entire belly of the blade is required to slice though this layer of fat.
Blade length should also be considered, with the length of the blade matching the animal you are skinning. Small game, like rabbits or squirrel, require a blade of 3 to 3.5 inches. Bigger game, like white tail deer, will need a blade of 4 to 5 inches. Elk or moose will need a blade of 6 to 8 inches.
Once you know the kind of knife you want, you can apply many of the same considerations that you would apply to a regular knife. A comfortable handle and a strong, sharp blade are the primary things to watch out for when searching for any knife.
Benefits of Owning a Skinning Knife
Although there are several ways to skin a carcass, it is much easier with a quality skinning knife. With a good and sharp skinning knife, you will easily separate the skin from the carcass with little effort. This essentially gives you the option of skinning a greater number of carcasses than if you were doing it with a regular knife and your hands.
The additional benefits of owning a skinning knife are that you get to skin your own meat, which means you get to hunt and kill it yourself. Although hunting might not be everyone’s passion, those that do really benefit from it. You can save a lot of money during hunting season by catching your own meat and storing it. What’s more is that you do not expose yourself to GMO’s that are rampant in the modern American meat industry. Instead, you’ll be consuming quality meats, with the satisfaction that you caught it and killed it yourself.
Having skinned your animal (if done correctly) you will also have a beautiful fur coat. This can be treated and used for clothing or a rug in your home. Many agencies will protest against this, but ethically speaking, once you have killed and eaten the animal yourself, what is the harm in using the fur so that none goes to waste?
Top 5 Rated Products
Elk Ridge ER-300CA Hunting Knife Two-Piece Set
This is a great set that includes everything you’ll need to get the skin off of an animal. It includes a 7-inch straight edge skinning knife as well as a 6.5-inch gut hook knife. The blades on each are made from 440 stainless steel, which gives a sturdy blade that will retain its edge. These blades are ideal for medium to large game, such as wild boar and elk. The skinning knife has a camouflage ABS handle that sits comfortably in the hand and includes a lanyard hole, while the gut hook knife has the same handle with a finger hole. Each has a storing sheath for safety and protection.
Customers loved the sharpness of these knives, claiming it made the skinning and gutting process very easy. The one complaint was that the sheath wasn’t very durable. This customer noted that the blade was so sharp that it actually cut through the sheath, which isn’t a bad complaint really.
Havalon Piranta Z Folding Blade Skinning Knife
The Havalon Piranta skinning knife has razor sharp dependability, making the skinning process incredibly easy and quick. It has a long and wide easy-grip handle, offering you the best control possible to ensure there are no mishaps. This knife is actually quite popular among taxidermists because of its sharpness. The blade is made from 60XT steel, which measures 3.4 inches, making it perfect for skinning and field dressing alike. It is a folding knife, measuring 7.4 inches when open. The handle is lightweight Zytel, making for a comfortable skinning session every time.
Customers were delighted to find that this skinning knife comes with 12 replaceable blades, meaning it will take you a long time to be done with it. The only criticism of this skinning knife was that excessive pressure may cause the blades to break. This is primarily down to the sharpness of the blades, which are also very thin and similar to surgical knives. This makes the knives excellent for skinning, if a little fragile. Overall though, this is a brilliant knife for skinning.
Buck Knives 0141VP PackLite Field Master Knife Kit
Buck Knives are one of the most trusted manufacturers of skinning knives around. They have a long standing tradition of making quality skinning equipment and a very reasonable price. This skinning kit comes with everything you need for some successful skinning. Included in the kit is a skinner, caper and gut hook blades and a combo sheath. The 3.5 inch skinning blade, 2.5 inch caping blade and the gut hook all have orange traction coating, made with 420C steel to give excellent strength, edge retention and corrosion resistance, making them very durable tools. They have a stainless steel skeletal frame with blade control cutouts for extra precision when needed.
Buck Knives always produce superior blade technology for precise incisions. They also have a lifetime warranty. Customers love that this is an American company. They also love the quality of these blades and the precision that their sharpness offers, which makes for a really easy skinning session. The only problem customers had with this kit was that the sheath was a little heavy. However, they were more than satisfied with the quality of the knives, which is what ultimately counts.
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Schrade 152OT Old Timer Sharpfinder
The Schrade 1520T Old Timer is a classic-style skinning knife. Aesthetically, it’s truly a marvel. And thankfully, it has the quality to back up its good looks. As Old Timer note, quality and performance go hand in hand with the brand name. This knife is a fixed blade attached onto a high material produced by Old Timer themselves. At 7.25 inches at full length, this knife is ideal for medium to large game, offering acute precision and ease. The steel blade will cut through skin and membrane like a surgical knife, though it will last longer due to the sturdy nature of steel.
Customers loved the quality matched with the aesthetic delight that is the Old Timer Schrade. They also loved the quality leather sheath that comes with the knife. There were some disheartened customers due to the fact that it was a Chinese manufacturer who assembles the knife. However, these knives are designed in the US and merely assembled in China. They are a well trusted brand that provides quality every time.
Outdoor Edge Butcher-Lite BL-1 Lightweight 8-Piece Butcher Kit
This kit from Outdoor Edge provides you with everything you need to skin a carcass. Included in this versatile kit is a 3 inch caping knife, a 4.4 inch gut hook, a 6 inch boning or fillet knife and a 6 inch wood and bone saw. Also included is a tungsten carbine V-sharpener, game cleaning gloves and a steel brisket spreader. The nylon roll-pack allows for easy removal of the carcass, and also allows for an easier clean up. Each blade is made from durable steel, which is why Outdoor Edge offer a limited lifetime warranty against defects in their materials and workmanship.
Customers lauded the quality of this kit, noting the time and thought that was clearly put into the design and manufacturing. The blades are strong and durable, making the skinning easy and quicker than normal. The only complaint we could find was the weight of the kit made it difficult for some users to carry with them. This kit may be one for home use, but it’s still amazing gear to have.
By owning your own skinning knife, you’re opening up a door of fresh, quality meats for your convenience. A skinning knife makes it much easier to skin a carcass. And you will find that with a good skinning knife and the right skills, you can also create desirable fur rugs and coats for the home.
When making the purchase, remember to consider what your game will be to determine your blade size. You’ll also want to make sure you’re buying a blade of quality steel that will cut well and last. Also, find a handle that is right for you, so as not to suffer sore hands.
The best product on this fine list of skinning knives and equipment has to be the Buck Knives kit. It offers you all the tools you’ll need, while also being smaller and lighter than the other kits on this list. This means you can transport it easily if spending a few days in the wilderness. Buck Knives are arguably the best brand in the field, and they won’t let you down.
Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: m01229