Hunting is one of the oldest activities that people still enjoy until now. Nature’s ‘predator vs. prey’ always finds its way to capture the interest and the hunting instincts of the outdoorsmen. Although there is no need to literally hunt for food, many are still in it for the thrill. Hunting presents challenges and excitement to hunters.
As tools have undergone major changes and developments, hunters now get to choose among a broad range of hunting knives in their arsenal. And if you are into hunting, knowing the different kinds of knives available and knowing how to choose the best huntung knife can surely make a big difference.
What is a Hunting Knife?
The use of hunting knife before was entirely different from what we know now. It is no longer used just to kill animals since there are now different applications and tasks that require you to use a hunting knife.
So what is a hunting knife?
Yes, it is still used to kill animals but hunting knives now have different uses which include the following:
- Butchering: You can now use a hunting knife to cut up the meat which can be a pretty much tough job to take. You really need a strong and sharp knife to help you with the cutting.
- Skinning: When skinning an animal, you cannot just use any blade. It needs to be really sharp, precise and thin to make sure that you do it the right way. You don’t want to tear off the abdominal tissue or any muscle.
- Deboning: This refers to the removal of the meat from the bone after it has been skinned and gutted.
- Gutting: This is the modern use of a hunting knife. Also known as field dressing, this refers to the process of taking the internal organs in order to preserve the mean.
History of Hunting Knife
There is no exact point in time as to when the very first knife used for hunting was conceived. But all we know is that people have been using the tool for ages, an old tool that is still widely used even until today. During the Stone Age, the ancient man would fashion blades from bone or stone to create different weapons.
There are also historical evidences that show how Egyptians in the ancient world used knives for hunting. They may not be the same as what they look like now but the design and functionality of this tool are rooted to its ancient use.
It was only when Jim Bowie came that the revolutionized the hunting knife. He had modified different knives to meet various needs. By integrating the different styles from other countries like Spanish hunting knife and butcher knife, he was able to make his own Bowie Knife.
By the 19th century, the Bowie knife became extremely popular among hunters as it has the capacity for skinning and butchering. The hunting knives today draw inspirations from the Bowie knife with varying design, features and specs. In 1964, the Buck’s Model 110 Hunting Knife became really popular making it one of the top selling knives. By the 20th century, knifemaker R.W. Loveless pioneered the drop point hunting knife which has now become the standard for almost all hunting knives.
Types of Hunting Knives
As the hunting knives have evolved and so are the different types used today:
- Camp Knife: A multifunctional tool, a camp knife is designed to do almost any task. The general design features a large drop point knife that you can use not just for your hunting activity but including other applications.
- Caping Knife: This type of knife is designed specifically for caping. It features an upturned point on its small blade. Caping knives today can also be used for different tasks.
- Bowie Knife: A larger knife using a clip point blade, a Bowie knife is popular for outdoorsmen for its complete functionality. It became really popular among hunters in the 19th and 20th century.
- Skinning Knife: Since skinning requires precision and sharpness when you cut through the skin, a skinning knife is designed for that purpose. It a short knife with thin curved blade. For extra precision, a skinning knife needs to have a non-slip handle so it won’t sleep from your hands.
Difference between Hunting, Survival and Tactical Knives
When it comes to buying a knife, you often have to face a myriad of choices available. For first time buyers, this can be challenging especially since one of the factors that you have to consider is whether you are looking for a hunting, tactical or a fish knife. Confused, you might even ask yourself, how are these three different?
These are all knives but they have varying design and specifications depending on where you intend to use it. Each knife has its own advantages and can give you certain features. So it will really just depend on your style and where you intend to use it to find a knife that best meets your needs.
Difference between Tactical and Hunting Knife
A tactical knife was commonly used by soldiers in the field. It has a strong blade featuring an easy and strong grip. Since soldiers are always on the move, tactical knives are designed to be portable and lightweight. But nowadays, there have been various modifications and improvements with the kind of tactical knife that people use now. They have stronger and longer blades. Depending on your choice, you can select either a fixed blade or a folding blade. The former is a popular choice for those who want to store it with ease. A perfect knife on the go, a tactical knife has a one finger or thumb stud open feature that allows you to carry and use it in any situation.
On the other hand, hunting knife is not used for combat as it is widely use for preparing game from skinning to dicing. Hunting knives feature serrated blades making them really handy especially if you want to cut a branch. Hunting knives have sturdy construction which make it a perfect design not just for hunting but even for outdoor. The downside is that hunting knives are slightly heavier but they have more features and can be used for various sorts of applications.
Elements of the Hunting Knife
Depending on your choice, you can choose to have either a folding or a fixed blade knife.
Pros of Folding Knife
- Discreet and very easy to conceal
- Very convenient to carry and you can easily transport it
- Its blade is as tough as the fixed blade if the knife has solid construction
Pros of Fixed Blade
- There are no moving parts so it does not break up
- Very easy to clean and maintain
- The blade length is much longer
- Superb tactical use
- Much stronger and bigger
You can choose between carbon steel or stainless steel. How do they differ? The composition of a carbon steel blade knife differs. Some has about 98% iron and about 2% carbon.
Pros of Carbon Steel
- It is easy to sharpen and has better edge retention.
- Gives you that razors edge
- Additional strength as well as toughness
Cons of Carbon Steel
- Prone to rust
The composition of a stainless steel blade also varies ranging between 70 to around 88% of iron and 30 to 12% chromium. It is a reflective knife and shiny.
Pros of Stainless Steel
- Less prone to rusting even when you leave it in moist
- Can be used under extreme weather conditions
- Easy to clean and maintain
Cons of Stainless Steel
- Can be quite difficult to sharpen
The blade sizes include below 4’’,4’’ to 6’’ and Over 6’’. If you want to have a lightweight and easy to carry knife, you would mostly prefer a knife that has a smaller blade size. But it is the opposite if you want a more solid and sturdy construction that is perfect for different applications and even for heavy duty use.
- Straightback blade: It has a curving edge and a flat back. It allows you to use fingers in order to concentrate the force which makes it heavy.
- Clip-point blade: It appears like a normal blade that has a back clipped and the tip looking thin and sharp. The sharp tip is used as a pick. If you sharpen the false edge, it increases the effectiveness of the knife in piercing.
- Drop-point blade: Featuring a convex curve, it is like a clip-point knife but has a stronger point. You find this blade style among Swiss army pocket knives.
- Partial Serrated: A knife that has a partially serrated blade features a toothed edge on the cutting surface. This is what makes this blade type perfect for cutting through tough materials like ropes and belts and other textured materials. It can also be used to for food from bread to fruits and vegetables.
- Tanto: Designed to be used for hard materials, the tanto knife features a high point and a flat grind. Since the thick point of the blade has more metal, it can absorb the impact from piercing. One of the main advantages of this knife is that it has a really strong point and it is the best for piercing even hard materials. The only downside is that it has no cutting edge that you need for slicing. Plus, it can be hard for you to control the point.
- Gut Hook: It refers to a special type of blade that is considered to be trailing point skinner with a gut hook feature. This is designed for field dressing and since it has a large belly, you can use it for slicing and skinning. The disadvantage of using a gut hook is that the trailing edge cannot be sharpened and the hook is also not easy to sharpen.
Handle Material and Design
The handle material and the design of the knife are also the other major factors that you have to consider. You want a knife that can give you a solid grip. Knives with Micarta handles can give you that advantage. Some knives have rubberized handle if you want a cheaper alternative. Low cost knives make use of wrapped handles.
The way people hunt has changed and although this is this is the case, the interest and the need to develop tools for the outdoors have become stronger than ever. Many enjoy hunting and engaging in other outdoor activities that require them to use a hunting knife.
With all the different types of hunting knives available along with the varying features and specs offered by different brands, knowing your hunting style, your personal preferences and where you will need the gear most are just some of the things that you have to consider when buying a knife.