Best Skinning Knives

When you’re looking for a new skinning knife, you have a lot of factors to consider. What type or size of animals will it be primarily used for? Do you prefer a folding knife or a fixed knife? What type of knife material will work best for you? Which knife point is better suited for your needs? Whether you’re been skinning animals for years or are just starting out, we’ve put together a comprehensive skinning knife buying guide, complete with product recommendations, additional reading materials, and honest skinning knife reviews.

Our Top List: The Best Skinning Knives

Best Deer Skinning Knife

Bark River Bravo 1

Buck Knives 279BKS

Best Small Game Skinning Knife

Buck Knives 539RWS

Klein Tools 1550-6 3-Blade Pocket Knife

Best Fish Skinning Knife

Ultimate Kitchen 7” Fillet Knife

Best Hog Skinning Knife

Kershaw 1080OR

Outdoor Edge RB-20

Best Big Game Skinning Knife

Ka-Bar BK-22

Best Sheep Skinning Knife

UltraSource 449132 ErgoGrip Sheep Skinning Knife

Scroll down to read our detailed reviews on each of these items, but you can check out the current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon by clicking the links above.

Buying Guide

Be sure to consider the following elements of each knife you’re considering to ensure you find the best skinning knife to meet your needs.

Blade Length

While blade length will differ based on the animal you’ll be skinning and your personal preference, a skinning knife should generally have a short, thin, and curved blade.

  • Blade Length for Large Game – The best big game skinning knife will have a blade length of 6” to 8 ½”.
  • Blade Length for Medium-Sized Game – If you hunt primarily for medium sized game, such as deer, you’ll likely want a knife with a 4” to 5” blade.
  • Blade Length for Small Game – If you’re looking for the best small game skinning knife to use with squirrels, rabbits, or other small game, a blade length of 3” to 3 ½” is ideal.

Fixed vs. Folding

Many hunters carry both fixed and folding knives but prefer to use folding knives for the actual skinning. Folding knives are, of course, easier to carry and store safely, and they generally hold an edge (or retain their sharpness) better than fixed knives, but fixed knives are stronger and more sturdy. It is purely up to the individual though, as neither type of skinning knife offers any particular advantage.

folding knife

Knife Points

The most important part of a skinning knife is obviously the blade. It must have a “belly,” or a larger rounded section, so that it can easily slice through the parts of the animal that it needs to slice through while avoiding the muscle and the hide. Here are some different types of knife points to consider when buying your next skinning knife.

Drop Point

The unsharpened edge of a drop point knife slowly curves downward from the handle to the tip. It has a large slicing area and an easily controlled tip. While these knives won’t be as effective for piercing since the tips aren’t as sharp, they are great for skinning animals with loosely attached hides, such as whitetail deer, elk, moose, and antelope.

Clip Point

A clip point knife has an unsharpened back edge that goes straight out from the handle before dipping down slightly and then turning back up toward the point. Clip point knives have very sharp points that are very controllable and ideal for piercing, and they have a large belly for slicing, which is perfect for skinning. This type of knife point is also great for skinning animals with a loosely attached hide

Caping

Caping knives are a variation of drop point knives as they have mild drop points. These skinning knives are preferable for delicate skinning, such as with that of a trophy animal or smaller game.

Trailing Point

Knives with trailing points have an unsharpened edge that curves upward. These used are most commonly used for skinning and slicing as the large belly is ideally suited for those tasks.

Gut Hook

While a gut hook knife isn’t going to be your primary skinning knife, it is a necessary tool in skinning. This type of knife has a large belly for skinning, but also has a hook on the back edge of the blade that can be used to cut through the underside of an animal like a zipper without nicking the muscle.

Materials

Knife Blades

While various knives are made from a plethora of different materials, the blades of hunting knives are almost always made from some sort of steel. Here are a few of the top steels to consider when selecting your skinning knife.

Carbon Steel Blades

These types of blades are cheaper than stainless steel blades, but they are very prone to rusting. Additionally, they will keep an edge for a long time and are pretty easy to sharpen. Provided that you’re willing to put in the time and effort to prevent rust, these are a great option for a skinning knife.

Stainless Steel Blade

This type of blade is less likely to rust but a little more difficult to sharpen. It won’t keep an edge as well as a carbon steel blade will, but it is easier to maintain long term. If you’re willing to put up a few extra dollars, a stainless steel skinning knife is a great option.

Knife Handles

knife_handle

Handle materials are also something to take into account. Make sure your handle material decision is based on practical factors rather than simply aesthetic appeal. Here are some things to consider when it comes to the material of your skinning knife handle.

Wooden Handle

The type of wood used will greatly affect the way your knife functions. Softer woods are more porous, which is problematic in wet conditions. Wood can be slippery, so you should test out the durability and feel of a various wooden handles before deciding on one.

Metal Handle

Metal handles are most commonly made from aluminum, stainless steel, or titanium. Stainless steel tends to be heavy but is also durable and rust resistant. Aluminum dents easily and can be hard to hold in cold weather, but it’s strong and very lightweight. Titanium is easily scratched and very costly, but it is lightweight, very sturdy, and incredibly resistant to corrosion.

Synthetic Handle

Generally speaking, synthetic handles are made from some sort of plastic or rubber. Each type has its own list of benefits and drawbacks that you need to consider. While carbon fiber is strong and light, it is also incredibly brittle and can be quite expensive. Micarta is a type of plastic that is durable yet lightweight, but it is also pricey.

Best Deer Skinning Knife

Medium sized game and most animals in the deer family are easily the most commonly hunted animals. Whitetail deer, mule deer, and antelope are all similar in size. Additionally, their hides are loosely attached so they can be skinned with the same type of skinning knives, making the best deer skinning knife an all-around great knife for every hunter to have. Here are top two picks for the best deer skinning knife, in two different price points.

Bark River Bravo 1

This is a fixed blade knife that has a micarta handle and an A2 steel blade that is .215” thick, 4.25” long, and a full tang shape. It’s easy to sharpen, is incredibly sturdy, and has a comfortable handle that won’t slip out of your hand. It comes with an amazing leather sheath too!

Buck Knives 279BKS

This folding knife comes with a locking mechanism that gives you the peace of mind of a fixed knife. It has a 3.5” blade and folds down to be just 5” long. A strong 420HC steel makes up the drop point blade, while stainless steel and rubber comprise the handle. This deer skinning knife even comes with a sheath that can be worn on your belt either horizontally or vertically, or it can be tossed in a bag for safe and easy transport.

Best Small Game Skinning Knife

Small game encompasses several animals. Most commonly, small game refers to squirrels, rabbits, foxes, coyotes, ducks, and geese. When you’re looking for the best small game skinning knife, you’re going to want a slightly smaller blade

Buck Knives 539RWS

This drop point, fixed blade knife is made specifically for skinning small game. The 4.25” blade is made with S30V steel, which means it is incredibly sturdy, is resistant to rust, and keeps an edge really well. The handle is made from a contoured rosewood and the knife comes with a leather sheath.

Klein Tools 1550-6 3-Blade Pocket Knife

Since a lot of small game is relatively easy to skin, many hunters carry a standard pocket knife to use when skinning the smaller animals. The spear point blade is 2.5,” the sheepfoot blade is 2.375” long, and a third screwdriver tip blade is 2.5” long. The blades are made from carbon steel and the entire pocket knife is just 3.75” long when closed.

Best Fish Skinning Knife

If you’re an avid fisherman, you likely already have a system in place for skinning and filleting your fish. Some individuals prefer to skin their fish and then fillet them, while others would rather fillet the fish and then skin the individual fillets. However you choose to do it, utilizing the best fish skinning knife is sure to make the entire job much easier.

Ultimate Kitchen 7” Fillet Knife

The best fish skinning knives are usually very thin and long, and this option is exactly that. This 7” heat-tempered steel blade is easy to sharpen and has a nylon handle that offers an exceptional grip. This knife can be used as a fillet knife, but it is also considered one of the best fish skinning knives available. It comes with a gut spoon, a sheath, a lifetime warranty, and an ebook of how tos and recipes!

Best Hog Skinning Knife

When it comes to skinning hogs, sharpness and durability is the name of the game. Many hunters find that they need multiple knives to get through one hog because the hide dulls blades so quickly. You could go with that option, or you could make sure you have the absolutely best hog skinning knife out there. Here are our top two picks.

Kershaw 1080OR

This fixed blade knife has a blade length of 2.375” and a total length of 6”. The textured orange handle offers an excellent grip and is easy to find after setting it down. The blade is made of Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel, which means it is a high-performance knife that stays very sharp for a very long time. While this knife is shorter than some may prefer for larger game, it is very easy to control and maneuver, making for some more precise cuts and cleaner skinning.

Outdoor Edge RB-20

This knife is incredibly sharp from the get go. It is easily sharpened, but it also comes with 6 additional blades so that you don’t have to stop in the middle of skinning to sharpen a blade. It is a folding knife that comes with a sheath, and each blade is 3.5” long and made from a Japanese stainless steel. Its orange rubberized handle makes for a great grip and easy-to-spot knife.

Best Big Game Skinning Knife

Big game refers to the largest hunting animals out there—bear, buffalo, caribou, mountain lion, wolf, sheep, boar, moose, and elk. Depending on your personal preference, you may opt for a fixed or folding knife, or a short or long blade.

Ka-Bar BK-22

This knife is effective, sharp, easy to use, and good looking. It’s 100% synthetic, has a fixed blade that is 5.25” long, and has a total length of 10.5”. It’s a heavy duty knife that is perfect for precisely and quickly skinning big game.

Best Sheep Skinning Knife

The best sheep skinning knives can likely be used interchangeably with other big game, but a sheep’s hide will separate more easily from its carcass than other big game animals, so you likely won’t need as sharp of a knife for skinning a sheep. We’ve found what we believe to be the best sheep skinning knife available today.

UltraSource 449132 ErgoGrip Sheep Skinning Knife

This fixed blade knife is an excellent choice for skinning sheep. It has a 5” blade made of rust-resistant steel, so it is well-equipped to handle the most intense skinning and boning you can throw at it. Its blue textured handle is comfortable and easy to grip without slipping, and the blade is easy to sharpen between hunting trips.

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