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How to Choose a Hunting Knife

What kind of knife should I carry into the field?

Ask 20 hunters and you’ll probly get 20 (or more) answers because picking the “right” knife depends on a lot of different things, especially how you’re gonna use your blade. C.J. Buck, head man of the legendary Buck Knives breaks it down.

First you must decide between a fixed blade or folding blade. Fixed blades are heavy duty, easy to clean and easily accessed with a sheath. Folders are very safe — most lock open and won’t accidentally open in your pack or close on your hand.

Skinner: Best suited for skinning game. The tip is narrow, while the wide curved belly gives a nice skinning sweep that aids in getting through thick layers. The downward-angled, more-blunt point makes it harder to make an accidental slice through the hide by mistake.

Drop point: This blade is full-bellied with a strong, thick point for heavier tasks. It does not have the same belly width as the skinner and thus can be used as a general work knife. The top of the blade drops down toward the tip, which provides a nice thick tip and minimizes accidental puncturing while skinning.

Clip: The front end of the blade is concavely ground to a crescent tip which makes it thinner with a sharper point. This shape provides good control for detail work and cutting in tight places. It is also well-suited for intentional punctures like new holes in your belt, etc. While the point of the blade is effective for detail work, it’s not as strong as the thicker points on drop points and skinners.

Caping: Small slim blade, almost scalpel-like in shape. It has a mild drop point, with nearly a spear-tip shape that is used for the delicate removal of the hide of the face of a trophy animal. The shape makes caping knives perfect choices for birds and small game. Caping knives tend to be slim and very light-duty so they are not always the right choice if you only intend to carry a single knife.

Guthook: The guthook is meant to “unzip” the hide and can be used as an amazing aid to skinning. It’s also used in opening the hide on the legs and helps avoid cutting into the entrails while gutting. Contact with the hide or hair of a fallen animal will dull a blade edge very quickly.

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