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The Best Hunting Knives of 2023

A hunting knife has a single purpose: processing meat after a kill. We did the research to help you find the best hunting knife for your needs and budget.

A hand holds a Benchmade Raghorn hunting knife with orange bladeThe Benchmade Raghorn is one of the best hunting knives on the market; (photo/Sean McCoy)
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Of course, your hunting knife should have secondary characteristics that make it useful for survival, camping, and all-around utility. But the big job, the one it must conquer, is getting the meat field dressed quickly so it’s preserved and will taste great on your dinner plate.

What to look for? The knife should hold an edge or be easily field sharpened. It should fit well in the hand to protect the user from accidental injury. And a good hunting knife is usually stout enough to crack bone.

It doesn’t need to be big or bulky like some sort of weapon. Remember, the animal is already dead when the knife comes into play. Use the links below to quickly navigate to what piques your interests, and don’t miss our Buyer’s Guide, comparison chart, and frequently asked questions sections.

The Best Hunting Knives of 2023


Best Overall Hunting Knife

Benchmade Raghorn

Specs

  • Steel CPM-CruWear
  • Weight 3.5 oz.
  • Blade length 4.64"
  • Overall length 8.88"
Product Badge The Best Hunting Knives of 2023

Pros

  • Excellent steel holds an edge for a very long time
  • Light
  • Blaze orange blade won’t get lost
  • Great ergonomics

Cons

  • The sheath doesn’t attach to a belt easily
  • Expensive
Best Budget Hunting Knife

Outdoor Edge WildPak 8-Piece Hunting Knife Set

Specs

  • Steel 420J2 stainless steel
  • Weight 2 lbs., 6.4 oz.
  • Blade length Various
  • Overall length Various
The Best Hunting Knives of 2023

Pros

  • Pros
  • Low cost
  • Has everything you need
  • Comes with a carrying case and sharpener

Cons

  • Knives need resharpening often, dull quickly
  • Too bulky for backcountry hunting
Runner-Up Hunting Knife

Montana Knife Company Stonewall Skinner

Specs

  • Steel Magnacut
  • Weight 5.5 oz.
  • Blade length 4.75″
  • Overall length 9.25″
The Best Hunting Knives of 2023(Photo/Montana Knife Company)

Pros

  • Excellent steel
  • Versatile, large-bellied blade shape
  • Grippy, ergonomic handle

Cons

  • Hard to find
A Super Value Hunting Knife

Morakniv Basic

Specs

  • Steel Sandvik Stainless
  • Weight 4.1 oz.
  • Blade length 3.6"
  • Overall length 8.25"
The Best Hunting Knives of 2023

Pros

  • Great price for a quality knife
  • Comfortable handle

Cons

  • Won't hold an edge like higher-end knives
  • Not full-tang
Best Ultralight Hunting Knife

Argali Carbon Knife

Specs

  • Steel S35VN
  • Weight 1.8 oz.
  • Blade length 3.25"
  • Overall length 7.25"
The Best Hunting Knives of 2023

Pros

  • Perfect shape for efficiency
  • Light
  • Excellent steel

Cons

  • Not easy to attach sheath to belt or other external straps
Best Replaceable Blade Hunting Knife

Gerber Gear Vital Big Game Folder

Specs

  • Steel Replaceable stainless steel scalpel blades
  • Weight 4.9 oz.
  • Blade length 3.75"
  • Overall length 9.75"
The Best Hunting Knives of 2023

Pros

  • Easy and safe blade changes
  • Razor-sharp new blades every time
  • Ergonomic handle

Cons

  • Cannot accomplish hard-use tasks.
  • User should carry a second knife for camp
Best Processing Knife

Benchmade Meatcrafter

Specs

  • Steel S45VN (also availabe in several other steels)
  • Weight 3.24 oz.
  • Blade length 6.08"
  • Overall length 11.06"
The Best Hunting Knives of 2023Benchmade designed the Meatcrafter with renowned hunter Steve Rinella; (Photo/Sean McCoy)

Pros

  • Excellent handle for long hours of work
  • Blade shape optimized for meat processing
  • Super sharp, slicey, thin blade
  • Perfect for butchering game in camp or at home

Cons

  • Too large to carry in the field
  • Not intended for gutting or quartering game
Other Editor Favorite Hunting Knives

Buck 113 Ranger Skinner Knife

Specs

  • Steel 420HC (S30V available in customs)
  • Weight 5.2 oz.
  • Blade length 3.12"
  • Length overall 7.25"
The Best Hunting Knives of 2023

Pros

  • Great blade shape for big-game processing
  • Good handle
  • Upgraded steel is excellent
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  • Better steel available
Buck Alaskan Guide 113 Ranger resting on dead leaves

Kershaw CQC-11K

Specs

  • Steel D2
  • Weight 5.8 oz.
  • Blade length 3.5"
  • Overall length 8.5"
The Best Hunting Knives of 2023

Pros

  • Folding knife option
  • Fast opening
  • Decent steel
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not as safe as fixed blade
  • Better steel available

DiamondBlade Pinnacle 1

Specs

  • Steel Friction-forged D2
  • Weight 4 oz.
  • Blade length 2.55"
  • Overall length 7.25"
The Best Hunting Knives of 2023

Pros

  • Excellent blade shape
  • Good handle
  • Hand made

Cons

  • Expensive for D2 steel

Buck Pursuit Large Knife

Specs

  • Blade 420HC
  • Weight 6.4 oz.
  • Blade Length 4.5"
  • Overall Length 9.5"
The Best Hunting Knives of 2023

Pros

  • Good value
  • OK steel for the price
  • Easy to maintain

Cons

  • Won't hold an edge like modern steel
  • Large

Benchmade Altitude Fixed-Blade Knife

Specs

  • Steel S90V
  • Weight 1.6 oz.
  • Blade length 3.08"
  • Length overall 7.38"
The Best Hunting Knives of 2023

Pros

  • Exceptional steel
  • Very light
  • Near perfect minimal design
  • Made specifically for cleaning game

Cons

  • Expensive
  • The minimal handle makes hard-use tricky

Gerber Randy Newberg DTS

Specs

  • Steels 440C primary blade, D2 tendon blade
  • Weight 6.6 oz.
  • Blade length 3.75"
  • Length overall 8.9"
The Best Hunting Knives of 2023

Pros

  • Unique design gives two cutting implements
  • Tendon tool makes tough cuts
  • Primary blade saved for fine work
  • Specifically designed for elk hunting

Cons

  • 440C steel only OK
  • Folding design

Opinel No. 8 Beechwood Handle Knife

Specs

  • Steel 12C27 Sandvik stainless steel
  • Weight 1.5 oz.
  • Blade length 3.25"
  • Length overall 7.5"
The Best Hunting Knives of 2023

Pros

  • Very cheap
  • Secure locking ring
  • Simple camp knife can process small game

Cons

  • Not suitable for large game
  • The absolute minimum for cleaning small game
  • Mediocre steel

Comparison Chart

Hunting KnifeSteelWeightBlade LengthLength OverallPrice
Benchmade Raghorn
CPM-CruWear3.5 oz.4.64″8.88″$420
Outdoor Edge WildPak 8-Piece Hunting Knife Set
420J2 stainless steel2.4 poundsVariousVarious$54
Montana Knife Company Stonewall Skinner
Magnacut5.5 oz.4.75″9.25″$325
Morakniv Basic
Sandvik Stainless4.1 oz. 3.6″8.25″$13
Argali Carbon Knife
S35VN1.8 oz.3.25″7.25″$193
Gerber Gear Vital Big Game Folder
Replaceable stainless steel scalpel blades4.9 oz.3.75″9.75″$51
Benchmade Meatcrafter
S45VN (also available in several other steels)3.24 oz.6.08″11.06″$370
Buck 113 Ranger Skinner Knife
420HC (S30V available in customs)5.2 oz.3.12″7.25″$106
Kershaw CQC-11K
D25.8 oz.3.5″8.5″$91
DiamondBlade Pinnacle 1
Friction-forged D24 oz.2.55″7.25″$315
Buck Pursuit Large Knife
420HC6.4 oz.4.5″9.5″$60
Benchmade Altitude Fixed-Blade Knife
S90V1.6 oz.3.08″7.38″$200
Gerber Randy Newberg DTS
440C primary blade, D2 tendon blade6.6 oz.3.75″8.9″$60
Opinel No. 8 Beechwood Handle Knife
12C27 Sandvik stainless steel1.5 oz.3.25″7.5″$18

Why You Should Trust Us

Three men drag a deer out of the woods while hunting
The author and two buddies take turns dragging a mule deer out of the woods; (photo/Sean McCoy)

Our team and I are avid hunters with decades of experience in the field. And we also happen to be total “knife knuts.” We put the knives listed here through rigorous testing in the field. Some of the knives listed here have gone through more than 10 years of testing. We also travel to trade shows to meet with brands and learn about their newest products. We then put those through tests to decide if they’re worthy of this guide. Ultimately, we recommend the same knives here as we do to our best friends and hunting buddies.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Knives for Hunters

I know I’m going out on a limb here with this kind of “best of” column. Whenever you say “best,” someone’s going to get left out. Someone’s going to get their feelings hurt.

But I’m OK with that. Suck it up, buttercup. And feel free to tell me why your knife deserves to be on this list. There are a ton of great blades in the world, and the GearJunkie staff wants to hear about your favorite.

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You may have gleaned this from the above selections, but to be completely clear: I don’t like huge knives for hunting, as I feel they are more dangerous to the user when it’s dark, rainy, slippery, or God knows what else. They’re also heavier.

And I don’t like gut-hooks, as I feel a well-handled knife does the job of opening the body cavity just fine. If that’s your bag, all right. It’s just not mine.

The Benchmade Raghorn makes quick work of breaking down game; (photo/Sean McCoy)

Finally, I prefer fixed-blade knives in general for hunting. That’s because, if they need to shift into survival or bushcraft mode, you have a tool you can baton through firewood with less risk. That said, folding knives can serve you well and I do include some here.

We included retail prices with our selections, but many of the knives above can be had for big discounts during sales. When investing, keep in mind that a good hunting knife can last for a literal lifetime, so it’s not a place to scrimp. Buy one you’ll love, and you’ll love it forever. Buy one you hate, and well, you’ll be stuck hating it forever, or buying another soon. Happy hunting!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you sharpen a hunting knife?

In short, you sharpen a hunting knife the same way as you would any other outdoor knife. That means using a sharpening tool and following its instructions. You can use a sharpening stone, a powered sharpener like a WorkSharp Knife and Tool Sharpener, or a guided sharpening tool like the Worksharp Precision Knife Sharpener or Lansky Precision Knife Sharpening Kit. Using those tools is straightforward but requires reading and following instructions beyond the scope of this article.

It’s worth noting that several top brands offer free or cheap knife resharpening. For example, Benchmade, Argali, and Montana Knife Company all offer free lifetime sharpening of their knives. For hunters, that’s a great deal and something worth taking advantage of every year.

What is the best hunting knife brand?

If I had to pick one “best” hunting knife brand, I would probably say Benchmade. But Buck, Kershaw, Gerber, Spyderco, Havlon, and many other brands make great hunting knives.

What makes a good hunting knife?

A good hunting knife will first and foremost be razor sharp. High-quality steel that will hold an edge for a long time helps keep that sharpness during the long process of cleaning a game animal. Next, you want a great handle that won’t slip in your hand. Finally, make sure the knife blade shape is appropriate. I personally prefer a blade around 3.5 to 4 inches long with a drop-point or clip-point shape.

Can I carry a hunting knife on my belt?

You sure can, at least while hunting. Many good fixed-blade hunting knives come with a belt sheath designed for this purpose. Just be sure not to run afoul of the law while walking around cities or towns with open or concealed-carry knife restrictions.

How should I care for or clean a hunting knife?

To clean a hunting knife, simply wash it with soap and water. But don’t put them in the dishwasher as the powerful heat and detergents could damage the handle. Make sure to dry them well before storing them. If you have high-carbon steel, wipe them down with a light coating of oil before storage to inhibit rust.

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