Best Knives For Skinning and Gutting

To give you an edge on your survival needs we’re going to talk about the best skinning knives available for purchase. If you’ve ever brought down a big game such as a buck, elk, or moose, you know you have your work cut out for you. 

Not all knives are created equally, some may be able to help you finish off skinning your buck in twelve or so strokes while others may take hours. 

When the taste and quality of your meat is dependent on your ability to not nick any organs, and to quickly dismember and haul your kill away to storage,  it is important to have the right set of tools to do the job efficiently. 

By Dick Culbert from Gibsons, B.C., Canada[/caption]

Especially, when it comes to survival. If you happen to make your kill later in the evening when many of your predators start to come out, and the temperature drops, you know the importance of being able to work quickly. 

What we’ll cover:

  • Features to consider when buying the best skinning knife
  • Types of Skinning Knives
  • Recommendations (for small game & large game)
  • Conclusion

Features To Consider When Buying The Best Skinning Knife

Blade Length

The length of the blade is one of the features to consider when purchasing a knife for skinning game. Longer blades that are 5″ inches or more are typically used for skinning larger game like moose or elk. A 3″ inch long blade or longer is more ideal for deer. Blades smaller than 3″ inches work better on small game such as rabbits and squirrels.

However, it is also a matter of preference, some people prefer the use of a smaller knife on large game because they feel like they have more control when skinning. 

Overall Knife Length

A blade must be balanced. The handle and the blade length should stay consistent to each other. Too thick or heavy of a blade will make it difficult to manage. However, too much weight on the handle can make skinning or cutting less efficient. The overall length will help you decide on which game you will use the knife for. 

Handle Materials

Handles made out of rubber offer enhanced gripping. A rubber handle offering better gripping can be nice when it is wet, but they’re more difficult to clean. Other knives are made from highly durable woods or deer bone making them very easy to clean and adds to the aesthetics of the knife. Other less common options include carbon fiber, stainless steel, micarta, titanium, and aluminum.

Steel Quality

If you have not skinned an animal before you may not be aware that animal hair is quite tough, coarse, and can quickly dull a blade. You don’t want to spend all your time sharpening a blade so a finer steel that does not dull quickly will be great. 

Types of Skinning Knives

You could categorize skinning knives into 3 types as follows:

  • Folding knife – Folding knives are great when you need to keep the size of the blade small. They are more commonly used for small game.
    • Some knife models feature blades that are changeable so you don’t ever have to sharpen your blade, you just switch them out. Personally, for survival reasons I don’t like this because you’re limited on your blades. Plus, you’re dependent on the manufacturer for continuing to make blades for that model, which they may not.
  • Fixed-blade knife – Fixed blades are more common. The blade shape on these knives often has a slight curve. Skinning knives often have a slight curve with the point of the blade coming to what is called a drop point. Some may instead have a gut hook at the point.
  • Gut hooks – Gut hooks are more like an added feature to a knife. They make it easier and cleaner when opening the animal’s abdomen so that you don’t slice through any of the organs and thus spoil any meat. A gut hook is a small hook-like feature that slices through the connective tissue.  


113 Ranger Knife by Buck Knives

Ranger 113 Buck KnifeThe 113 Ranger Knife designed by Buck Knives is highly regarded as one of the best small blade skinning knives on the market. Buck Knives have been manufacturing knives in the U.S. since 1902 and has established a brand of making high quality reliable blades.

A 420HC steel makes this knife strong, durable, and very resistant to corrosion or rust. You will not have to constantly sharpen your knife after skinning skinning through an animal’s coarse hair.

The narrow drop point tip with the wide curved body will allow you to skin like a professional.

The blade length of 3.13 inches makes this ideal skinning deer and a variety of animals both large and small.

The handle is made from American walnut wood with a brass bolster. The sheath is made from genuine leather. 

And to top it off the manufacturer provides a lifetime warranty for their product.

WT-2718 Damascus Steel Skinning Knife

WT-2718 Skinning KnifeIf you’re interested in a knife that is aesthetically appeasing but can also get the job done, then the WT2718 Damascus Steel Skinning knife may be what you’re looking for.

  • Over 200 layers of low carbon & high carbon steel hammered, folded, and forged. The advantage of this is not only a beautiful design but it helps to interrupt crystals that can be formed when the metal is cooled. This way there is not a single sheer plane that would make the metal more susceptible to breaking.
  • The hardness of the of the blade is anywhere from a 56-60 Hrc. Anything above 58 Hrc is considered a hardened steel. This means the blade does not easily deform, meaning it holds its edge (sharpness)
  • Bone & Olive wood handle with stainless steel bolster with a genuine leather sheath.
  • Size: Overall 8″, blade 4″, handle 4″

Benchmade Grizzly Creek 15060-2

Benchamade Grizzly Creek Knife click to buyIf you’re willing to spend a bit more the Benchmade Grizzly 15060-2 is one if not the  best overall knife ever made for skinning and gutting smaller and even larger game.

  • It is a foldable hunting knife with a 3.5 inch blade and a folding gut hook. The handle length is 4.34 inches and the overall length is 7.84 inches. The black clip on the handle allows you to attach the knife to your belt or pockets
  • The blade is composed of a CPM-S30V stainless steel which is a powder metallurgy stainless steel. This is a state of the art technology of blending powdered materials that result in a finer grain structure
  • Hardness:58-60 RC which is consider to be a high quality hardened steel, meaning it doesn’t deform easily when cutting. In other words, it keeps its sharpness and doesn’t dull easily
  • There is a gut hook that folds on the other side of this knife and handle is designed in such a way as to allow you to comfortable grip and maneuver the gut hook.
  • The Grizzly Creek is equipped with a AXIS locking mechanism, which keeps the knife securely locked in place, but also allow you to open and close the knife single-handedly
  • The knife has some very positive reviews and can comfortable be used for almost any game kill.

Victorinox Beef Skinning Blade

Although not as pretty as some other blades we’ve recommended previously. This longer 5 inch blade will save you time when skinning your larger animals such as moose, elk, or cows.

The Victorinox beef skinning blade has a simple yet effective design. Victorinox is a high credible brand known for their pocket knives and multi-tools produced out of Switzerland.

If you’re not very good at skinning you’ll do a decent job with this knife. It is also very budget friendly.

I don’t have much information as to the exact specifications of this knife. I personally used this knife when I skinned my first cow. I wasn’t experienced at all at the time and was able to do a good job, so it is easy for a beginner to work with. The quality of steel is not as high as some of the other knives previously mentioned but you don’t have to spend too much time sharpening this blade as you’re working through your kill.

Mossy Oak Hunting Field Dressing Kit

Now if you plane on taking your kill thoroughly apart where it lays then it might be easier to have an entire kit of knives, rib spreaders, bone saw, and other necessities. The Mossy Oak Hunting Field Dressing Kit can work nicely for you.

    • 7-1/4″ Caping Knife
    • 8-3/4″ Gut-hook Knife
    • 12″ Boning Knife
    • 9″ Game Shears
    • 9-1/2″ Wood/Bone Saw
    • 10-3/4″ Butcher Knife,
    • Cutting Board
    • Rib Spreader
    • HCS Knife Sharpener
    • Red Game Cleaning Gloves
  • 4 Hunting knives with bicolored green rubberized handles with black coating argyle pattern and ergonomic handle groove ensures non-slip during use.
  • Heat-treated blade of knives has excellent hardness, edge retention and corrosion resistance for lasting durability.

SwingBlade by Outdoor Edge

SwingBlade by Outdoor Edge is two knives in one, a skinning knife and a gutting blade. The skinning blade is 3.6 inches long while the gutting blade is 3.2 inches long. Overall length is 8.2 inches.

The blades are made of AUS8 stainless steel and have been treated with a vacuum heat treatment and a chilling subzero temperature. This improves their durability and provides better balance.

The TRP rubberized handle provides you a non-slip grip. Outdoor Edge gives this quality blade a lifetime warranty.


We have suggested a lot of options that should meet all your needs for gutting and skinning game. Do you have a question? Something you would like to know more about leave us a comment and let us know.

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