A Comprehensive Guide on Hunting Knives - History, Uses, Blade Types, and More
While hunting requires different types of gear, it is obvious that the most significant of them all is a hunting knife, and a passionate hunter knows his way around it. Evidence suggests that humans have been creating knife-like tools for thousands of years which have continued to evolve till date. While an all-purpose hunting knife is used for cutting, slicing, or general utility, humans have learned to modify different materials and blades for specific tasks such as skinning, gutting, deboning, throwing, etc.
Whether you are new to hunting and looking to get yourself a hunting knife or are a die-hard hunter hoping to get an upgrade, we have got you at the right place.
Before we begin discussing the types and uses of different hunting knives in the market, let me tell you a little about the history of a hunting knife.
History of Hunting Knives:
We can't exactly tell the date when a hunting knife came into being, but it is evident that it has been transformed for thousands of years during different ages to reach the point where it is today. During the stone age, humans made sharp edge, knife-like weapons from shells, bones, stones and used them for hunting purposes. The Egyptians were the first ones to install a wooden handle for their spears.
Hunting knives continued to develop over the years, but the person who truly revolutionized the anatomy of a hunting knife and made it what it is today was Jim Bowie. He was an American Pioneer of the 19th century who played a significant part in the Texas revolution. The bowie knife is said to be Jim’s brother, Rezin B. Bowie’s invention, originally designed to defend his brother during future battles.
Jim redesigned his brother’s invention for hunting, skinning, cutting, and also combat. Bowie knives are typically large, clip-point fixed blades making them perfect for the hunting and stabbing game. As it was designed for hand-to-hand combat, a bowie knife also has a serpentine piece in between the handle and the blade for the user to protect his hand from an attack.
Another major development in history was the invention of swiss army knives. These introduced folding blades for hunting knives which are now very common. The swiss army knives were used for various purposes including woodwork, hunting, slicing, skinning, etc. Because they were very practical, they rose to popularity during the 19th century.
Anatomy of a Hunting Knife:
Point – The point is the tip of your knife, where the back of the knife meets the spine. This particular part works best for puncturing or piercings.
Blade length – It is also known as the edge of the blade. It's the part that does the job of cutting or slicing.
Belly - The belly of the knife is the curved part of the blade. Greater length gives more cutting space, so the bigger it is, the better.
Bevel – There are essentially two parts of a bevel - primary and secondary. The primary bevel usually starts at the midpoint of the blade, while the secondary bevel is what is commonly referred to as the sharpening edge - the steeper it is, the sharper your knife will be.
Guard – Also known as the hilt, protects the user from accidentally slipping their hand onto the blade. It is located between the handle and blade. It is useful during rough procedures in hunting.
Choil – It is a part near the hilt which allows the user to have a firm grip, assisting in fine detailed work.
Tang – This is the part of metal that extends into the handle, covered by wood, plastic, etc. It attaches the blade to the handle and makes sure that it doesn’t break off. There are many types of tangs including partial, full, or skeletal.
Handle - This is the part you hold your knife from. Now, it is made up of different materials, however, you have to decide what suits you best depending upon the use, environment, and many other factors.
Types of Hunting Knives:
As the name suggests, this particular kind is multi-purpose. You can use it for cutting, slicing, skinning, and pretty much almost everything. It has a firm handle with a 5-6 inch blade, perfect for slicing meat. Most of the time such knives come with a full tang for durability. If you are new to the game of hunting, this is the knife I would recommend to you. The first hunting knife I bought was also an all-purpose knife which I got from Blade HQ. They have a great collection of high-quality fixed blades, so If you are looking to buy yourself one, you can always check them out.
The second step after hunting an animal is taking its skin off. Now, this is a very crucial process that requires a steady hand and a certain skill set. You can master it with some practice but having a sharp skinning knife sure makes it a hell of a lot easier. This particular knife is short and thin with an extremely sharp blade to skin off the animal without damaging the flesh or the tissues. Some may also have a small curve for increased control.
If you don’t already know, gutting is the process of removing the organs of an animal. Take a deer as an example. If you want to dress it, you’ll need to remove its organs to preserve it while it's still warm and fresh. Therefore, a gutting knife is designed specifically for this purpose. Most of them also have a gut hook in order to simplify the process.
Not most of the hunters enjoy this sport, but some of them who do will need a throwing knife. If you want to scare an animal away or hunt one down the conventional way, you will need a throwing knife. These knives are designed to fulfill their purpose. They have a perfectly balanced weight that helps them land on a surface, be it a tree, ground, or flesh.
If you are a regular hunter, you must have a lot of knowledge about camping as well. A camping knife is modified to fulfill many camping procedures. It is similar to an all-purpose hunting knife which helps in many tasks. Knife center is one of many stores that have a wide range of camping/ hunting knives. Personally, I prefer a knife that has multiple uses but looks aesthetically pleasing at the same time. So if you are into those stylish, killer-looking daggers, knife center has got you covered.
Removing the skin off of the head of a deer, boar, or whatever animal you’ve hunted, is known as caping. A knife similar to a skinning knife is designed to serve this purpose. It has a small but extremely sharp blade with a slight curve for easy removal of the skin.
The name of this particular type is pretty self-explanatory. It has a very long, slim blade with a solid handle for a firm grip. Now believe me when I say this – having a boning knife while you go down to hunt is a blessing. It makes the process of deboning the animal so easier and effective. The blade may appear to be a little flimsy, but it sure does wonders.
Now that we are done talking about the common types of hunting knives available let's discuss a little about the kind of blades we have.
This blade type will take care of most of the processes in hunting. It has a thick fat edge that is slightly curved for maximum grip. It has a wide belly which makes it perfect for slicing meat.
It is available in both curved and straight edges. Its specialty is the sharp tip, which makes it perfect for stabbing.
The name comes from its blade type. The tip of the knife “trails” higher than the spine axis causing the back edge to curve. Therefore, it has a weak tip but is perfect for skinning or de-boning.
Well, I guess the name with this one is pretty self-explanatory. The blade is symmetrical with sharp edges on both sides. It has a super sharp tip, so can be used for stabbing, piercing, and many other purposes.
Tanto point is a bit different from your usual blade shapes. Tanto means a short sword. In Fact, this is where it got its name from. It has a sharp blade belly and a sharper tip, making it ideal for piercing.
Types of Knife Tangs:
As the name suggests, the metal of the blade extends all the way back into the handle. This means that the tang and the handle are of the same shape. This particular tang type is probably the best option out there in the market as they give a strong grip and would almost never break off while doing aggressive tasks.
The tang partially extends into the handle or grip, which makes it the opposite of a full tang. It is lightweight and cannot compete with the strength of a full tang. It may also break off while you’re going rough with it. However, I’ve never faced such an issue because my top picks are from either Blade HQ or Knife Center, because they never compromise with quality. So, always try to get your tools from well-reputed brands like such to avoid problems.
It has part of the tang in the middle, cut out in order to reduce the material and the cost of the knife. The lightweight makes it a great throwing knife but it wouldn’t be ideal for other rough tasks.
The width of a tapered tang decreases as it goes deep into the handle. Doing this would make it a lot weaker than other knives however, it gives it the perfect balance you need to fulfill some of those hunting needs.
A blade grind is the shape of the blade that makes the cutting edge. Different kinds of blade grinds determine the job most suitable for a particular knife. Let's discuss some common kinds of blade grinds available within hunting knives.
This is probably the most common kind of grind available within hunting knives. The sharpened edge of this blade is concave. It bends inwards from both sides and joins at an equal angle. The blade with this one is the sharpest - perfect for skinning. However, the setback is that these blades are very thin. So, they aren’t suitable for tasks like wood cutting, etc.
This is the simplest of all blade grinds and is further divided into three types.
Both sides of the blade equally start tapering from the spine and continue till the edge. It creates an extremely sharp blade but also has the same disadvantage. This edge is brittle which makes it easy to break and rough tasks cannot be carried out with this particular blade grind.
The tapering with this one starts exactly In the middle of the knife and continues till the edge.
This one is pretty similar to the high flat grind. The Scandinavian grind starts tapering very close to the sharpening edge, so it is not as sharp as the other two types. As the major part of the blade has the same width as the spine, it makes it very strong and durable.
Even though flat grinds have a sharp edge they lose their edge fairly quickly and need to be resharpened again and again.
Saber grind is very similar to the Scandinavian grind but the only difference is that it has a secondary bevel. The blade sides evenly form a secondary bevel. The final tapering forms the sharpened edge.
Instead of evenly tapering to the edge, convex grind curves in the exact opposite way of the hollow grind. This blade has a lot of metal in the width which gives it the strength to carry out rough tasks like cutting firewood. A convex blade grind is commonly used in axes.
These were the main characteristics of hunting knives that you need to know before buying one for yourself. You can always get many varieties and options with these in today's day and age. There are different handle materials, blade types, and shapes available according to your needs and liking. You can even get folding pocket knives if you are into fancy stuff like that.
One thing to remember is the maintenance of your knife. Which loosely translates to covering it up with a sheath, and sharpening it every once in a while to last for a good long time.