Hunting knife in a tree

Best Skinning Knife for Hunting in 2021

A good skinning knife is one of the most important tools to have in your hunting pack.  Having a good skinner knife can make field dressing extremely easy.  But having a bad knife can make field chores a real drag.

Things to consider before buying a Skinning Knife

Fixed or Folding

This is the first decision you will want to make and is largely a personal choice between a fixed knife and a folding knife.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Fixed blade skinning knives are extremely durable and can handle quite a bit of abuse.  The disadvantage of fixed blades is that they are not as compact as folding knives.  

If you decide to buy a folding skinning knife, there are a variety of locking systems to pick from.  The type you chose is a personal preference as they all work and are safe.  The most common locking system used by hunters is the “rocker,” also known as a lock back knife which has a lock bar toward the rear of the knife.

Design

The next most important thing you want to look for in your skinner knife is the design of the blade and the material the blade is made from.  Most skinning blades have a narrow tip which makes precise cuts and a blade belly that allows for efficiency.  Some blades include a guthook.

If you are hunting small game or looking to remove the skin for taxidermy, you want a smaller knife blade for more precision.

Top Choice for Skinning Knife

Through my research, I had a hard time finding a single knife that met all my needs, so I decided to find a set of knives that would do everything I need.  It turns out this approach works well because when I’m field dressing an animal, I can select the exact right knife for the job rather than rely on a single knife and trying to make due.

Elk Ridge Hunting Knife Set

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Although this is a field dress kit that comes with two knives, the skinner knife in the set is one of the best.

Features & Benefits

The Elk Ridge Hunting Knife set is definitely affordable, especially for two knives.  Both knives are fixed blades rather than folding.  The blades are made from 440 stainless steel.  This type of steel makes the blades extremely hard and retain a sharp edge for a long time.  They are both full tang knives which provides superior stability.

The skinning knife blade has an overall length of 7 inches with a nearly 4 inch long blade and features a deep belly for efficient cuts.  It also has a gut hook to quickly and easily open the belly of the deer, elk, or whatever you are hunting. The blade also has an added feature of a finger hole for added control.

The Trailing point skinning knife has an overall length of 7 inches and a blade length of 3 ½ inches.  The point of the blade is very sharp and the cutting edge is razor sharp.  The blade itself is razor sharp for easy cuts and ensuring little waste of meat when taking the skin off an animal.

These knives come with a compact made of black nylon and easily attaches to your belt.  Both knives fit securely in the single sheath.

What do owners say

Don’t just take my word for it.  I also scoured the Internet to find out what other owners had to say.  

Pros:  Most owners love the way the grip feels in their hands and the ease with which these knives are sharpened.  

Cons:  The knives need sharpening frequently, but this is the case with any knife where it is important to retain a razor sharp edge.

Click here to purchase the Elk Ridge Hunting Knife set.

Other Good Choices

MOSSY OAK Fixed Blade Hunting Knife Set 3-Piece

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This is a kit of three knives.  I find that two knives is sufficient for my needs, but having a large drop-point blade is nice to have even if I rarely find a need for it.

Features & Benefits

This three blade hunting knife set features two drop-point knives, one 10 ½ inches in total length (5 ½ inch blade) and another 6 ¾ inches in total length (2 ¾ inch blade).  The third knife features a gut hook.  The overall length of this knife is 10 inches with a 5 inch blade.

All the blades feature full tangs for stability and the blades are made of 3CR13 stainless steel which is a very durable steel that retains an edge for a long time and is very durable.  However, any blade where razor sharpness is needed, like a skinning knife will require frequent sharpening.

The handles are wrapped in leather and ergonomically shaped with finger grooves.  The handles are large enough for someone with large hands to easily hold and make precision cuts.

The sheath is fairly large, but holds all three knives.  It will attach easily to your belt.

Click here to purchase the Mossy Oak Fixed Blade Hunting Knife set.

What do owners say

Pros:  Owners say that for the price point, the three knives are excellent buys.

Cons:  Many owners don’t like how large the knife sheath is and how it feels on their belt.

Mossberg Fixed Blade Knife

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If all you are looking for is a single knife rather than a set, the Mossberg Fixed Blade knife is a good, all-in-one skinning knife.

Features & Benefits

This knife is on the shorter side having only a 3 ½ inch blade and an overall length of 6 ¾ inches.  The blade is made of surgical steel and features a gut hook which will help easily open the belly of a deer.  The blade is sturdy and will hold an edge.

The handle had a nice texture to it which will help provide extra grip when the knife gets wet.

The knife comes with a sheath that attaches to your belt and fits the knife perfectly.

What do owners say

Pros:  Owners love the finger hole for better grip and the short curved blade for easy bone and joint cuts.

Cons:  Owners report that the color of the handle makes it difficult to find when dropped in the forest.

Click here to purchase the Mossberg Fixed Blade knife.

Conclusion

I selected the Elk Ridge Hunting Knife set for my purposes because I prefer smaller knives when field dressing an animal for the precision they offer.  I waste little meat with the small knives.  If you like large knives for field dressing, the Mossy Oak 3 knife set is an excellent option that I highly recommend.