The Best Hunting Knife Guide On The Planet – Select, Sharpen, Be Safe
The most common 7 hunting knife blade shapes
In this chapter, we will discuss and compare the most common 7 hunting knife blade shapes and how they can benefit you. We will explain their advantages and disadvantages in an easy to understand way so that you easily decide which one is the most suitable for your future hunting knife.
As you will notice from reading this article, the selection of the blade shape also depends on the activity you usually perform; a certain shape can be perfect for skinning, while another shape can be ideal for piercing or tactical tasks.
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1. The clip point blade:
This blade has a clip point and its spine appears to be cut off; this can help you achieve greater control.
A knife with a clip point blade is a multi-purpose tool: for example, you can use it for hunting or camping activities; the clip point blade is reliable and sharp.
As a disadvantage, this blade has a tip that’s pretty sensitive and fragile; it’s not so effective when it comes to skinning or splitting. It’s great though for piercing, slicing or stabbing.
2. The drop point blade: the ideal hunting knife blade
This shape is extremely used in designing military and survival knives; also, most hunting knives feature a drop point blade, since it’s powerful, sharp and versatile.
The drop point blade features a tip that drops from the spine to build the point. This blade is safe, thick and curved and its tip is also stronger than a clip point tip.
A drop point is the best hunting knife blade; it’s the perfect tool for hunting. As a disadvantage, the drop point is not as sharp as a clip point. It’s great for skinning, bushcraft, slicing, prying or carving.
3. The spear point blade:
The spear blade has the spine located in the middle. The point, which is positioned in the centerline of the blade’s long axis, is strong, sharp and easy to control. Also, aesthetically the spear point blade is really pleasant.
The top and the bottom halves of the blade are symmetrical. Most modern hunting knives can have the top of the blade sharpened and that’s considered a double-edged blade.
It’s great for piercing, stabbing, self-defense, or military and tactical activities.
4. Gut Hook:
The gut hook is the ideal blade shape for skinning tasks; a gut hook blade features a sharpened semi-circle attached to the spine; it’s almost like a “C” shape.
It’s perfect for skinning, slicing, and field dressing big game. As a disadvantage, the hook is difficult to sharpen, it’s almost impossible to get the job done using a whetstone; on the other hand, it’s a really useful blade that will get the heavy-duty task done.
A knife with a sheepsfoot blade is perfect for you if you usually perform activities such as slicing, stabbing or chopping; the sheepsfoot blade has no point and this fact guarantees you won’t accidentally hurt yourself while doing these tasks.
The knives with a sheepsfoot blade can be easily controlled with your thumb on the spine.
The straight edge is designed to be used in tasks such as cutting or wood carving and it’s easy to sharpen as well.
A knife with a tanto blade is specially designed to be strong and reliable; it’s suitable for piercing, cutting hard materials or even for tactical activities. Many combat knives have a tanto blade and they look like a little sword.
The tanto blade features two straight edges; this means that the knife has the ability to pierce and cut hard materials.
Regarding its disadvantages, a tanto blade will be more difficult to sharpen and it’s not suitable for slicing tasks.
7. Dagger/Needle-point blade:
As you already read, a tanto blade can be used for piercing hard materials. The dagger, or the needle-point, as is commonly known, is a double-edged blade with a sharp point that’s used mainly for piercing soft materials.
The dagger is not the strongest blade and it’s not suitable for constant use, because of its fragile point; it’s also not ideal for slicing.
4 easy steps to maintain your hunting knife
A hunting knife is built to last, but without proper care, your tool won’t be reliable, safe and ready to do its job.
It’s not hard to maintain your hunting knife, you just need to follow some easy steps.
First of all, let’s clarify some aspects regarding the use of a hunting knife.
The main purpose of a hunting knife is to skin an animal or to cut the meat, so using the knife for tasks such as woodcarving or chopping will definitely damage the blade in time.
Of course, a blade can be versatile enough to be used for other tasks as well, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about what a hunting knife is made for.
As long as you respect this fact, you can rest assured that your hunting knife will do its purpose.
Now that we clarified this aspect, let’s move on and discuss 4 easy steps that will help you maintain your hunting knife.
1. Keep it sharp
A sharp knife not only does it help you to get the job done, but it’s also safer; a dull blade will force you to apply more force and you can hurt yourself or lose the control over your knife.
It’s true that most hunting knives come razor sharp right from the factory, but you will still need to sharpen it; a blade can be really strong and with great edge retention, but it will still get dull sooner or later.
A professional sharpening method is called the whetstone technique, which will help you sharpen your knife fast and without much stress. You will need to pay attention to set and maintain the same angle, but this can easily be achieved with a little practice.
2. Clean your hunting knife after each use
It’s not a secret that a clean knife will last longer and will be more reliable.
This step is even more important if you own a folding knife. You definitely don’t want bits of meat or blood on your knife, so make sure you wash the blade and the handle with water and soap after each use.
Afterwards, you can dry your knife using a cotton cloth. Fixed blade knives are easier to clean than folding knives, but they require regular cleaning as well.
3. Store your knife in a dry place
Hunting knives need to be stored in a dry place, such as a nylon sheath. However, it’s not recommended to always keep a knife in its sheath, since it can cause corrosion.
You can find a cool and dry place and keep it there, or you can use paper to wrap the blade and then put the knife in its nylon sheath. A leather sheat is not recommended for storing your knife for a long time since it can create a humid environment.
4. Lubricate your hunting knife
Why is it important to lubricate your knife? Because it assures protection against rust and corrosion.
Lubricating is an easy process. You can use a small amount of oil and apply it on the blade and the pivot points. It’s not necessary to do this after each use, twice a year would be just fine.
If something things go wrong and you damage the knife, don’t try to repair it by yourself. Each hunting knife has its own warranty conditions, so take advantage of it.
How to sharpen your hunting knife
Sharpening your hunting knife can be a stressful activity, but it’s definitely a necessary one.
It’s extremely important to have a sharp knife since it enables you to do your job fast, precise and secure. A sharp knife will keep you safe since applying too much pressure can make you lose control over your tool.
Most hunting knives come razor sharp right from the factory, but if you use them on a regular basis, you will still need to learn how to correctly sharpen them.
There are many ways to sharpen your hunting knife and in this chapter, I will show you the whetstone sharpening method which is considered to be the most professional method.
It’s also true that this method requires a little practice to set and maintain the right angle, but it’s not a difficult process to master.
How to test if your knife needs sharpening?
A simple method is to easily and carefully rub your thumb horizontally across the blade.
An interesting method is the following: you can inspect the blade by simply angling it back and forth. Any gleams of light reflect the imperfections of your blade.
How to pick an angle?
Sharpening your hunting knife using whetstones is not difficult, but the real struggle can be to pick and keep the same angle.
If you don’t know the right angle to sharpen your knife, you have two options to solve this issue:
- Research: you can find information online about the right sharpening angle of your knife. You can ask a specialist, a manufacturer or check the brand’s website for information. As an example, Buck Knives has a special page where you can read about various sharpening tips and techniques. Really useful!
- If there’s really no way you can find the angle your knife is sharpened at, you can choose an angle of 22 to 30 Degree.
If you would like to read more about sharpening angles, this article is very helpful and detailed.
The Whetstone method
Whetstones are great for keeping edge retention and they have two different sides: a side with a fine grit used for sharpening and another side with coarse grit, used for polishing up any roughness.
- The first step in the whetstone sharpening process is to fill a container with water and soak the stone. Water acts as a lubricant and the porous stone must be loaded up before the actual sharpening begins. It’s recommended to let the stone in water for 5 to 10 minutes until you no longer notice any air bubbles. It’s also important to keep applying water while sharpening.
- Place the stone on a flat object and make sure it won’t slip while you sharpen your knife; a piece of wood will work just fine.
- The whetstone sharpening process begins with the coarse grit of the stone. Drag the knife across the stone and make sure you maintain the same angle and pressure. You can easily press the blade into the stone and you set the angle by lifting the back of the knife. Move the blade back and forth. You don’t need to apply a lot of pressure, move it gently. For greater control, you can use an angle/sharpening guide that you can place beneath the knife. It’s recommended to use this tool if you’ve never sharpened a knife before or you’re not experienced in setting the right angle and controlling the strokes.
- After a few strokes, repeat the process on the opposite side of the knife. There’s not the right number of strokes; it really depends on how dull the knife is, but you should definitely reduce the strokes with each pass and check the progress.
- The next step in the sharpening process is to use the fine grit of the whetstone. Basically, you do exactly the same as with the coarse grit, while paying attention to maintaining the same angle and pressure.
- It’s important to check the progress after each pass and gently test the blade. You can do that by slicing something or by cutting a piece of newspaper.
- After you finish the sharpening process, it’s a good idea to soak the knife in hot water and to clean the residue from the whetstone.