For a hunter, having a solid skinning knife with a durable blade and no-fail grip can mean the difference between an easy job and an unplanned trip to get stitches. If you hunt or process your own meat long enough, you’re inevitably going to cut yourself. The odds of that happening are exponentially higher if you’re skinning using a dull blade.
Keeping a sharp edge can be challenging in the backcountry. Stopping to sharpen your knife every few minutes can eat up valuable time. If you forget your sharpening tools — forget about it. The joy of a successful harvest can turn into frustration pretty dang quickly when you’re trying to hack up your freezer filler with a butter knife.
Enter Montana Knife Company’s Stonewall Skinner. This knife comes from the maker with a razor-sharp MagnaCut blade. This supersteel is the stuff of modern legend, so I was super-stoked to get it into the field for some real testing. And it’s no easy feat to get your hands on an MKC knife. They typically sell out within minutes of becoming available online.
So where does Montana Knife Companies Stonewall Skinner land in the hierarchy of knives?
In short: The Montana Knife Company MagnaCut Stonewall Skinner ($325) has found a permanent place in my hunting pack. It holds an edge like no other dedicated skinning knife I’ve used, and let me tell ya — I put it to the test hard this year. If there’s a downside, it’s the cost.
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The MagnaCut Stonewall Skinner From MKC
The Stonewall Skinner
- MagnaCut Stainless Steel
- Full Tang
- Total length: 9.25″
- Blade length: 4.75″
- Spine thickness: 0.135″
- Edge thickness: 0.015″
- Weight: 5.5 oz.
- G-10 Bulletproof Handle
- Sheath: Black Kydex
- Made in the USA
MKC Stonewall Skinner First Impressions
Let’s start with some brutal honesty: I am biased. Montana Knife Company is based in the backyard of where I spent my youth. I root for Montana companies to succeed. I openly acknowledge my bias in this — however, it also means I expect the best from these companies. If you’re going to emblazon my home state on your product, it had better live up to — and exceed — my expectations.
The packaging is beautiful and rugged, if not a little overkill. I’m hard on needless overpackaging. But with just a cardboard box and smart use of brown paper and a short length of paracord, this is a nice, sustainable choice. And it felt a bit more like a gift than a product. I’ll admit, it was classy and stylish, and it felt like you had obviously purchased a high-quality product.
The Kydex knife sheath is nice, if basic. It is adjustable, giving you the ability to increase or decrease the force needed to draw the knife.
The sheath has a modular belt loop (though I’m not a knife-on-the-belt hunter) for easy mounting to whatever belt or strap you so choose. It is adjustable, too, so you can mount the knife vertically or horizontally, or left- or right-handed.
This knife feels substantial in the hand. That is not to be confused with heavy. At 5.5 ounces, it is on the lighter end of the hunting knife weight spectrum. As someone who has a knife in my hand often, there is a big difference, and it is hard to describe.
The balance between the blade and the handle gives this knife a secure feel. With a rounded belly, the Stonewall Skinner gives off a bigger-than-it-really-is vibe — and that’s a good thing.
While this knife is designed for skinning animals, it is a very versatile fixed-blade design. The tip is in essence a raised drop point, a great all-around shape. The pronounced belly gives the knife a huge working surface. And the very thin blade of just 0.135 inches at the spine allows for easy slicing.
The handle is wonderful in the hand and easy to hold in multiple ways. The time-tested G10 “Bulletproof” handle material maintains a grip when wet and feels great.
The Stonewall Skinner Test
That is what I put this knife through in about 1 month:
- Two fresh deer
- Two frozen deer
- One mountain lion
I’ll admit, I typically turn to disposable blade knives for skinning, but this year we stuck it out with the Stonewall Skinner, and to say I’m impressed is an understatement.
It held a razor-sharp edge through some seriously tough skinning. With two deer hanging in the skinning shed in sub-zero temps, this knife made easy work of the frozen solid animals. Moving on to the fresh deer, it still felt almost as if it was fresh out of the box with a new factory edge.
By the time I got to my mountain lion, I could tell we’d done some dulling to the blade, but it still performed and got the job done. I can’t imagine any of my other knives doing half that work without needing some serious sharpening.
- MagnaCut is an impressive steel. It held a sharp edge better than any other skinning knife I’ve used.
- The knife feels secure in your hand.
- The substantial, tough blade gives the thing some power if you need it.
- The rounded belly really makes a difference when it comes to making long clean cuts.
- Free sharpening: MKC will clean, sharpen, repair, and even reshape your blades when necessary, as well as rewrap handles — free of charge.
- Cost: At $325, it may be out of reach for budget-conscious hunters.
- Sharpening: Though the MagnaCut Stainless Steel is supposed to be easily sharpened at home, in my experience, it isn’t. For the same reason that it holds an edge, it’s tough to get a clean edge put back on it with a basic at-home setup. Luckily the free sharpening helps, but you do have to send it back to the company. This is a minor con, but worth noting if you like to sharpen your own steel.
- Availability: These suckers sell out quickly. Set a timer and log in early when availability is announced.
Is the Montana Knife Company (MKC) MagnaCut Stonewall Skinner worth the price tag? Absolutely.
This is a solid knife that is a purchase you can hopefully use for your hunting lifetime and pass down if the dang thing outlasts you. With top-notch construction using high-quality materials, this is one of those knives that makes the perfect gift for a serious hunter or meat processor.
Even if it is a bit outside your budget, over the long run, you’ll end up spending more on disposable blades. To me, you might as well invest in a knife that will hold up to whatever you put it through and last for decades of hard use.