In this review, we’ll be looking at some of the best skinning knife essential for hunting enthusiasts. Skinning knives are sharp curved bladed knives with narrow tips that are used to remove the hide or skin of an animal efficiently, usually a deer, antelope, moose, elk, caribou, or any other big-game animal.
Cutting tools are designed specifically to provide a secure grip when skinning the animal to avoid puncturing the hide or spearing the meat. Importantly, its blade should be relatively short and thin. A skinning knife can either have a fixed blade or folding blade. A fixed blade skinning knife is more rugged, but they are not as compact and portable as the folding knife. A folding knife requires extra care as it is easily exposed to corrosion, making it stiff or harder to operate.
- Top 10 Best Skinning Knife Reviewed for 2020
- #1. Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife – Editor Choice
- #2. Snake Eye Fixed Blade Tactical Hunting Skinning Knife – Best Value
- #3. Dexter-Russell 6-inch Beef Skinner – Best Overall
- #4. Victorinox wide skinning knife – Best for Pocket Knives
- #5. Elk Ridge- Outdoors 2-PC Fixed Blade Hunting Knife Set
- #6. Victorinox – 47645 Swiss Army Cutlery Fibrox Pro- Best Curved Boning Knife
- #7. Sani-Safe SB12-6 6” Skinning Knife – Best for Polypropylene Handle
- #8. Buck 103 skinner fixed blade knife – Best for Leather Sheath
- #9. Buck Knives 113 Ranger Skinner Hunting Knife – Best Compact Knife
- #10. JERO Butcher Series P3-6 Inches Beef Skinning Knife
- Best Skinning Knife Buying Guides
Top 10 Best Skinning Knife Reviewed for 2020
#1. Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife – Editor Choice
The Morakniv Companion Fixed-Blade Outdoor Knife or the Mora companion as it is widely called is an all-purpose non-serrated, sharp-tipped outdoor hunting knife produced in Sweden. It has a fixed blade of 4.1 inches hardened Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel. This knife also comes with a sharpening tool and a plastic sheet for safety.
On the plastic sheet is a drain hole that helps to remove moisture remains. In addition, its blade is 2.5mm thick, and the tang runs three-quarters of the way up the knife. Hence, this Morakniv knife is not a full tang hunting knife.
Overall, the full length of this Mora companion measures up to 8.75inches. According to its manufacturer, they claim the Morakniv companion fixed blade outdoor knife is lightweight. With a weight of 4.1 ounce we can only rule that this Morakniv knife is indeed lightweight.
When it comes to what you can use this knife for, its use is limitless. You can use it to cut small limbs and carve out tinder or feather sticks for making fire. You can also use it in food preparation, such as skinning and filleting. Handling the knife gives you a sense of comfort, as its ergonomic handle with a high-friction grip plastic allows it to sit comfortably in your hand. So, even when using this Morakniv knife in cold or wet conditions, it would not slip off.
Other Morakniv companion fixed blade outdoor knives include; companion carbon MG, companion heavy-duty, companion rescue, and companion serrated each having its unique feature and applications. Of them all, only the companion carbon MG and the companion heavy duty has a carbon steel type blade, others have a stainless steel blade and are all available in stores.
#2. Snake Eye Fixed Blade Tactical Hunting Skinning Knife – Best Value
Snake Eye is another top manufacturer of tactical hunting knives. When it comes to affordability, Snake Eye are at the top of their game. Produced in China, this Snake Eye fixed blade tactical hunting knife comes with a fixed blade of 4.5 inches long and boasts of a 3.5mm thickness. Its saw-back 440 stainless steel construction with a clip point and a hardness of about 58-60 HRC (Rockwell hardness) is the major sale point of this knife.
Choose this Snake Eye tactical hunting knife if you are after a full tang hunting and skinning knife. Design-wise, the black nylon fiber handle of this knife fits perfectly in your hand for a firm grip. Overall, the length of the knife is approximately 9 inches, and it weighs 8.8 ounces. You’d also love the feel of holding this knife as its weight is excellently distributed and well balanced all around the knife.
In terms of pocket-friendly knives, this knife is the best knife for skinning small animals. It also comes with a Kydex paddle black nylon fiber sheath for easy carriage and safety. Although the sheath looks classy, it gets loose over time. And the fact that it sits at a fixed 180-degree angle makes it quite uncomfortable to carry around.
Generally, this Snake Eye tactical knife is a compact knife suitable for small outdoor activities like camping, hunting, skinning, and carving. It is a good hunting knife. You can use efficiently to skin smaller games like a squirrel or a rabbit with its little limitations. This knife isn’t categorized under quality skinning knives. Lastly, the paint comes off after extensive use for years, but it is worth every penny.
#3. Dexter-Russell 6-inch Beef Skinner – Best Overall
The Dexter-Russell 6 inch beef skinner is a useful fixed blade skinning tool produced in the USA. Most butcher shops or deli use this knife daily. It is a quality skinning knife with a curved high-carbon stainless steel blade that allows you to skin with minimal wrist effort making it one of the best deer knives for skinning in the world.
The edge of the blade is very pointed and sharp and does not require frequent sharpening due to its skinning nature. It features a 6 inches stain-free blade with a polypropylene handle of 5 inches, making its overall length 11 inches. The polypropylene handle has an integrated protective finger guard and with a secure grip that provides enough friction between the knife and your hand, ensuring it doesn’t slip off or discomfort you.
When processing meat, this great skinner provides a perfect balance and control in wet or bloody hands. The handle is attached to the blade with brass compression rivets giving it an extra firmness. It is relatively durable, corrosion-resistant, and easy to clean. The Dexter-Russell 6-inch beef skinner is not a compact hunting knife but rather just efficient.
It is perfect for processing massive games like a deer or black bear among other deer knives. The Dexter-Russell knife is used mainly in farms, butchery, or meat processing factories. It also filets fish amazingly and gets very clean and close to the skin cut. Generally, it is quite a large knife to carry around, weighs approximately 5.6 ounces, and comes with a protective sheath. This hunting skinning knife is NSF certified and one of the best knives for cleaning deer.
#4. Victorinox wide skinning knife – Best for Pocket Knives
The Victorinox wide skinning knife is a fixed blade compact and sturdy 11 inches skinner produced in Switzerland. It is crafted from high-carbon stainless steel built sturdy to provide smooth, accurate cuts and a 5 inches long fibrox plastic slip-resistant handle with contours for comfort and safety.
With a blade dimension of 6 inches and made of a martensitic stainless steel alloy of approximately 0.52% carbon, 0.50% molybdenum, 15% chromium, 0.60% silicon, and 0.45% manganese you can be sure of its durability. Victorinox skinning knife is a full tang skinning knife and weighs approximately 4.8 ounces. The Victorinox wide skinning knife has a straight edge and curved belly.
Furthermore, it is excellent for skinning large animals and has a curved blade that enhances full-cut motion. This knife performs excellently well in skinning fish, butchering hogs and excoriating thick-skinned pork belly. It is quite a large knife and not recommended for hunting. At purchase, this knife doesn’t come with any form of a sheath, making it challenging to slip them into a bag pack when going camping or hunting, although a sheath can be bought separately or home-made.
Victorinox is also a sharp skinning knife and also very easy to sharpen with an ordinary whetstone too. They are NSF certified and ideal for the home kitchen or just to keep back at camp. Victorinox is one of the world’s most known brands for tools such as skinning knives and pocket knives.
#5. Elk Ridge- Outdoors 2-PC Fixed Blade Hunting Knife Set
Elk Ridge is a family-owned business and part of Master Cutlery, initially founded in 1982 that is now the largest knives manufacturer in the United States. It’s two-pieces fixed blade hunting knife set is ideal for hunting or anyone who spends time in the wilderness. It includes one straight edge knife and another with a gut-hook blade.
Elk Ridge knife has an overall length of 7 inches while the gut-hook knife measures 6.5 inches. Both are full tang knives featuring a black 440 stain-free steel blades that contain high carbon great for skinning big games. Their handles are made of green camouflage ABS with a non-slip texture that allows them to sit firmly in the hand when applied. They can both be carried easily or slipped into a backpack because they come with a black nylon dual sheath for safety, making them one of the best hunting knives.
Elk Ridge knife is more of the skinning /hunting knife, and it features a 3.5-inch stainless steel blade, finger grooves for firm grasp, and a lanyard hole on its handle. On the other hand, the gut hook is a 3.86 inches deep bellied knife with a gut hook usually used to pull, it has a finger hole, and thumb jimping on the back for extra control. They are both made from 3CR13 black stainless steel for an excellent balance in performance, hardness, and corrosion resistance.
Elk ridge outdoor two-piece knife is an essential knife for camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, survival, or self-defense. They are one of the best knives for cleaning deer or other outdoor tasks. Both share a combined weight of 11.3 ounces and are available in stores. To some hunting enthusiasts, this two-piece outdoor knife is the best deer knife made by Elk ridge.
#6. Victorinox – 47645 Swiss Army Cutlery Fibrox Pro- Best Curved Boning Knife
Here’s another Victorinox swiss army curved boning knife, a versatile de-boning knife. It trims and removes meat from bones, has a pointed tip that easily pierces the meat and a curved edge that allows it to cut smoothly close to the bone without wasting the meat. The Victorinox swiss knife comes as a 6 inches stainless steel blade in length and an ergonomic fibro pro handle for a firm non-slip grip even in wet hands. It is manufactured in Switzerland, semi-stiff, and weighs 4.2 ounces that are well balanced throughout the knife for secure handling and comfort.
The Victorinox boning knife is a full tang knife that comes in two variants; the flexible and the semi-stiff blades. The semi-stiff blade boasts of deboning meat to professional chef standards with its combined sharp, narrow, curved blade and firm non-slip grip handle. Its strength enables it to cut through meat like beef and pork without resistance and separate meat from bones to deliver the precision and efficiency of a standard restaurant kitchen. It can also be used for fileting fishes and beef.
At purchase, this knife doesn’t come with a sheath making it challenging to carry around or slip into a backpack; however, it can be bought separately after purchase. It is NSF certified and dishwater safe, but it is recommended to hand wash and dry. It is incredibly sharp, easy to clean, and sharpen. This knife is not meant for skinning and is currently discontinued by its manufacturers.
#7. Sani-Safe SB12-6 6” Skinning Knife – Best for Polypropylene Handle
Sani-safe SB 12-6 is a skinning knife built to be rugged and sanitary for removing skin from almost any meat with its curved shape, manufactured by Dexter Russell in the United States. It features a fixed full tang high carbon stainless steel blade with an edge grounded and honed for sharpness, attached to a textured polypropylene handle that is slip-resistant, firm to grasp, can withstand extreme temperatures and easy to clean after use. The Sani-safe high-carbon steel is called a Dexsteel and is durable and corrosion-resistant.
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At the same time, its textured polypropylene handle allows the knife to sit firmly without discomfort in the user’s hand. It boasts of a 6 inches long steel blade and a 5-inch long polypropylene handle and has a seal between the blade and the handle that prohibits the growth of bacteria. This outdoor knife weighs 4.8 ounces, can be used for filleting fish, skinning large animals or games, and even smaller animals. But unfortunately, it comes without a sheath, although one can be bought after purchase. Sani-safe SB12-6 is relatively sharp and easy to maintain. They are NSF certified and are currently still manufactured in the United States.
#8. Buck 103 skinner fixed blade knife – Best for Leather Sheath
The buck 103 skinner is a high quality fixed blade hunting knife that features a 4 inch extra wide 420HC stainless steel blade with excellent strength, edge retention, and corrosion resistance. It is a full tang knife constructed with an integrated finger guard and deep choil, making it excellent for hunting and skinning.
Furthermore, its stainless steel blade has a narrow tip and wide curved belly, which provides a smooth skinning sweep that helps to get through thick layers of flesh, making it one of the best deer cleaning knives. The slightly pointed edge also helps to prevent accidental slice or puncture through the hide. Its handle is made of hardwood cocobolo with brass guard and palm swells that allows its handling and maneuvers easy and comfortable with a firm grip.
Additionally, it comes with a leather sheath with snap fastener for easy carriage and safety, making it one of the best-fixed blade hunting knives. It can be carried on a belt, in a backpack, or just in the trunk of your car, making it one of the best hunting knives. The buck 103 skinners’ overall length is 8.25 inches and 0.120 inches thick with a weight of 4.3 ounces. It also carries a very masculine appearance, and it’s a knife specially designed for outdoor hunting.
Currently, the Buck Skinner knives are being produced in the United States, although its sheath is being produced in Mexico. Although it isn’t the best buck hunting knife available in stores. It is efficient enough for skinning pig and deer, making it seem like one of the best fixed blade hunting knives.
#9. Buck Knives 113 Ranger Skinner Hunting Knife – Best Compact Knife
The buck 113 ranger skinner hunting knife is one of the best fixed blade hunting knives. It is a stylish combination of the famous Buck Ranger and the Buck Vanguard. The hunting knife is one of the best buck hunting knives streamlined to be smaller, yet designed to be effective. It features a 3.125 inches extremely sharp fixed 420HC drop point skinner stainless steel blade of 0.120-inch thickness with excellent edge retention, excellent strength, and corrosive resistance.
Overall, this Buck knife measures 7.25 inches in length and weighs 5.2 ounces. Due to its ergonomic design, the buck 113 ranger comes with a genuine ebony handle with a brass bolster with just the right amount of friction needed to enable it to fit when held without slipping off. The genuine leather sheath allows its easy carriage and safety.
Performance-wise, this is the best knife for skinning because of its streamlined design. The sheaths are also made in Mexico and carry an inner plastic liner and a belt buckle that enables the knife to sit vertically or horizontally without slipping off for extra protection. Generally, Buck is one of the best hunting knife brands in the United States.
Most recently, many hunters use this hunting knife as a deer cleaning knife because of its blade length. Although users have complained of this knife lacking finger groove and relatively short handle. This is one of the most preferred out of the many deer knives available in the US.
#10. JERO Butcher Series P3-6 Inches Beef Skinning Knife
The Jero p3 is a commercial-grade fixed blade butcher knife with a German high-carbon stainless steel blade and an injection mold polymer handle for skinning meat commercially in a meat processing facility or at home. The Jero P3 was designed with durable high-end materials but remained economically commercial wise. Its light-textured polymer handle that is injected molded onto its high-carbon stainless steel blade gives it that extra strength every hunting knife with full tang blade possesses.
The polymer handle has enough friction enabling grooves on it to withstand wet or slippery hands. It has no finger grooves at the base of the handle, although it is easy to grasp, clean, and fits securely in most scabbards used in meat processing industries. They are produced by a leading European commercial knife manufacturer in Portugal. Jero P3 boasts of a 6 inches long high-carbon stainless steel blade, easy to sharpen, and weighs 4.5 ounces. Jero knives come with a lifetime guarantee against defects when used as designed.
The Jero P3t is one of the many quality skinning knives available in the market that can serve both commercial and personal purposes. This knife isn’t recommended as a hunting knife because of its size and lack of a sheath for easy carriage and safety. But if by any chance this goes with you on hunting. It’ll be one of the best hunting knives you’ve used.
Best Skinning Knife Buying Guides
There are two types of skinning knives, namely fixed blade, and folding blade. Typical hunting skinning knives are essential to hunters and serve multiple purposes. These include gutting, boning, skinning, and butchering of animals to cut small limbs and carving out tinder or feather sticks for making fire and doubling also as a protective gear. Although the fixed blade skinning knife is the most preferred when skinning more giant games.
Some critical buying guides are:
1. Blade Design
A good skinning knife should be able to hold an edge when separating hide from the flesh without cutting off excess meat along the skin. Although not all knives serve this function equally, an ideal skinning knife can skin off a buckskin in fifteen to twenty strokes with minimal wrist action. The skinning knife blade is usually sharp, curved belly, and high-carbon stainless steel.
Consequently, skinning knives with clip point or drop point blade design work best for skinning. They come in varying length, thickness, and width. Fixed blade skinning knives are more durable than the folding type because it has less or no moving parts and perfect for heavy-duty. Hence, a fixed blade skinning knife is the most preferred choice for hunting enthusiasts. However, a folding knife is smaller and more comfortable to move around but not as rugged as the fixed blade.
2. Blade Length
The length of an ideal skinning knife blade varies between three to six inches. However, it is vital to match the blade length to the size of the game animal you are skinning. For example, when skinning small animals such as rabbits or squirrels, a 3-3.5-inch long knife is ideal. Any skinning knife longer can become uncomfortable when carrying out precision cuts, and if shorter. They become difficult to grip and maintain leverage when cutting. However, larger animals such as deer, moose, and elk might require 4 to 6 inches of blade length. They are usually full tang or some inches infused into the handle. A full tang blade has proven to be more durable over time by users.
3. Blade Steel
A skinning knife is a tool, and as such, it must possess specific properties such as strength and durability. There are two categories of steel used; high-carbon steel and stainless steel. High-carbon steel blades are sturdy while stainless steel blades are preferred because of its ability to inhibit corrosion and cut through thick flesh without snapping or breaking or forcing its user to stop in the middle of skinning a game to sharpen the knife. Skinning knives with a hardness of 56-62HRC
Depending on how well maintained a skinning knife is handled. They are specifically designed to be durable because of its steel blade. However, many factors can limit this, such as the blade design, handle material, tang length, and category of steel used. A fixed blade knife is the best choice in terms of durability.
A skinning knife has to be sharp enough to enable it to correctly hold an edge. It must also be easy to sharpen. A 25-degree angle is best for hunting knives. The steeper the angle, the longer it holds an edge. However, a shallow angle will provide a sharper cutting surface. A whetstone or tools such as the Warthog V Sharp are excellent in maintaining perfect angles.
In conclusion, all skinning knives are made of stainless steel blades varying in size, thickness, and carbon content. Most skinning knife blades have a curved belly and full tang, i.e., its blade extends throughout its overall length, giving it a firmer and more durable performance being a major characteristic of best skinning knife. Their handles are usually made of hard plastic, textured polypropylene, or hardwood with enough grits and finger grooves that allow it to sit firmly and comfortably in its user’s hands without slipping off even in wet conditions. For safety and portability reasons, hunting skinning knives are usually kept in a sheath when not in use or when kept in a backpack. This sheath can be made of plastic, leather, or nylon with or without a lash and belt clip.