Evaluating and rating American-made hunting knives is a clearly subjective activity, as brands and types of knives are truly unique, with their characteristics varying across a wide spectrum of differing variables.
Ratings criteria include: fixed blades vs. folding blades; straight-blade, curved-blade skinning, and gut hooks; length of blade and overall length; blade steel; the grind; handle material and shape; weight; and sheath.
There are plusses and minuses associated with any brand and any type of knife. Take for example the comparison between fixed blades and folding blades. Hunters find that fixed blades are generally stronger, are easier to clean, and are less likely to malfunction. Their downside is their fixed length, making it a bit more to deal with using out in the field. Folding blades take up less space, with some coming with more than one blade. They may be a bit less durable, and cleaning the knife can be a messier proposition, as skin and other animal matter can get caught up in the folding mechanism.
The hunting community is a tight-knit group. Hunters enjoy getting together to swap stories, talk about their hunting camps, exchange strategies, speculate on prospects for success in the upcoming season, and will always have something to say about their equipment.
In a general sense, many hunters agree on certain facets of the hunt (bows vs. rifles, what time of day is best in their area, and so on). But when it comes down to specifics, this is where the differences lie. If it’s rifle season, what type of rifle are they going with? Made by who? What kind of ammo? Scope? And on and on this conversation can go, much to the delight of the hunters assembled together, comparing notes, and often trying to convince each other that their ways, and their equipment, is truly the “only way to go”.
Bearing these things in mind, hunters all across the country, through numerous outlets (TV and radio programs, magazines, newspapers, hunting journals, and a vast array of online resources), have specified a number of American-made hunting knives they favor. Some of these knives include the following:
Puma Coyote Stag (Outdoor Life’s Editor Choice)- Blade length: 3.8″; Overall length: 8″; Handle: real stag-antler; Sheath: high-quality leather.
Browning Russ Kommer– Blade length: 3.875″; Overall length: 8.25″; Handle: rubberized; Sheath: nothing special.
Buck Harvest Caper (caping-style, gut hook blade)- Blade length: 3.5″; Overall length: 7.12″; Handle: Micarta; Sheath: nylon belt sheath featuring flat that fits over handle.
CRKT Free Range Hunter– Blade length: 4.25″; Overall length: 9.06″; Handle: finger-grooved; Sheath: high-quality nylon, with pocket for sharpening stone and length of 550 paracord incorporated into it.
SOG HuntsPoint Boning– Blade length: 3.6″; Overall length: 8.2″; Handle: Rosewood; Sheath: black leather.
Buck Knives Ranger Skinner– Blade length: 3.13″; Overall length: 7.25″; Handle: Drymondwood, brass; Sheath: genuine leather (with lanyard hole).
Schrade Uncle Henry 171UH Pro Hunter– Blade length: 5.5″; Overall length: 10″; Handle: Staglon; Sheath: leather.
Buck Special Fixed Blade Knife with Cocobolo Handle– Blade length: 6″; Overall length: 10.5″; Handle: Cocobolo wood; Sheath: leather.
Magnum by Boker Duck Hunter Hunting Knife with Wood Handle and Plain Edge– Blade length: 9.13″; Overall length: 14.75″; Handle: wood; Sheath: leather.
Outdoor Edge SwingBlaze Skinning/Gutting Combination Hunting Knife– Skinning Blade: 3.6″; Gutting Blade: 3.2″; Handle: rubberized Kraton; Sheath: nylon.
Kershaw Knives Diskin Hunter– Blade length: 4.25″; Overall length: 9.5″; Handle: textured G-10 scale; Sheath: leather.
Buck Knives Fixed Omni Hunter 12 pt Knife– Blade length: 4″; Overall length: 9.75″; Handle: Thermoplastic; Sheath: heavy duty black nylon.
This, of course, is just a sample size of the seemingly endless variety of high quality, popular American-made hunting knives on the market today. Hunters looking into making a hunting knife purchase will really want to do their research on knives they’re interested in prior to making that purchase. Some knives are good for a variety of different tasks; some are really more-or-less certain task specific, and will be superior for some jobs, and not necessarily geared toward others. The best way to begin the search is to look for U.S.-made knives, then proceed from there. Happy hunting!