Best Skinning Knife Reviews – A Buyer’s Guide for 2017

After reviewing skinning knives across various different brands, we think the Buck Knives 113 Ranger is the best skinning knife for most people. If you're tight on budget, Outdoor Edge Razor Lite might be what you're looking for.

Have you been searching for the best skinning knife and just getting confused with all the reviews that are online? We’re here to help, and what we have done is sort through the multitudes and picked out the top 5 skinning knives for your money. At the end of these reviews we have also lined up tips and guidelines to help you better understand what a skinning knife is and what features to look for.

Best Skinning Knife - Our Choices

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Picture

Skinning Knife

Brand

Class

Price

Editor Rating

Buck

Mid Range

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Buck Knives 0691BK

Buck

Mid Range

N/A

Havalon

Mid Range

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Havalon

Mid Range

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Outdoor Edge

High End

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RUKO Genuine

Ruko

Mid Range

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Buck Knives 113 Ranger

Editor Rating:

Buck Knives are very much in demand these days, and when hunters buy skinning knife online, the 113 Ranger is usually one of those they look for.

The 1/8 420HC steel drop point blade is razor sharp, and with a total length of 7 ¼ inches and just 5.2 ounces, is more than capable of handling an assortment of cutting jobs.

The American Walnut Handle keeps the knife together, and it is matched by the leather sheath that is superior to most of the other sheaths that are bundled with most skinning knives. There’s a lanyard hole that is as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing, and you get the usual Buck lifetime warranty.

The 113 has some similarities with the Vanguard and it gets the job done insofar as skinning is concerned, and it’s effective for other cutting and slicing chores as well. Size wise the 113 is just right, small enough to hold comfortably but not too small it’s brittle.

The knife is full tang and the grip is solid enough you’ll feel confident it’s not going to slip off your hands. Just like its predecessors, the handle scales are constructed from Dymondwood, and it gives the knife a wood-like appearance. Grip wise the handle is strong and the blade as mentioned earlier, is as sharp as they come.

The 113 is a very capable skinning knife and cleans deer, rabbit, squirrel and other game with ease, but at the same time it is versatile enough to be used as an everyday knife. Whether it’s cleaning game or wood carving, the 113 gets it done.

Pros 

  • Sturdy
  • Compact
  • Comes in a lanyard hole
  • Has a leather shealth

Cons

  • Little variation on the wood grain

Specifications

  • Knife Material: brass bolster and American Walnut for the handle
  • Total Length: 7 1/4"
  • Weight: 5.2 oz.
  • Blade Length: 3-1/8"
  • Blade Type: fixed blade

Buck Knives 0691BK

Editor Rating:

The 0691BK is a sleek looking knife, and it is backed up by a solid drop point 420HC steel blade. The knife has an overall length of 8 ½ inches and is pretty light at 6.6 ounces. 

In terms of performance the knife holds up well and cuts through a wide range of materials with no trouble.

The rubber texture handle comes with a brass guard, and that alone makes this worth a look. The nylon sheath could have been better, but overall it should be able to do its job of protecting the knife and blade.

As a fixed blade knife the 0691BK works fine and lives up to the quality standards set by other Buck knives. The finish is top of the line, and it has a clean and shiny look you don’t often see in skinning knives. The quality design extends to the pommel which doesn’t just look good but feels solid as well.

The blade is sharp and should be able to handle pretty much whatever skinning plan you have in mind. The nonslip grip is a nice touch and the soft rubber keeps your hand comfortable even when held for a long time. At the back of the blade you’ll see a hook, and if you hunt you know how valuable this feature is. You cannot skin game as effectively with a plain knife, as the gut hook makes it easier.

Buck is known for their quality knives and this is no exception. It is obviously built for skinning and it gets the job done without any fuss.​

Pros 

  • Has a secure and safe grip
  • Full bellied blade
  • Suitable for dressing game
  • Durable

Cons

  • The sheath quality could be better

Specifications

  • Knife Material: rubber texture handle w/ brass guard
  • Total Length: 8-1/2"
  • Weight: 6.6 oz.
  • Blade Length: 4-1/8"
  • Blade Length: 4-1/8"

Havalon Piranta Z

Editor Rating:

The Piranta Z may not have the longest blade but there are a lot of reasons why it’s a candidate for the title of the best skinning knife in the world. The blade is 2 ¾ inches long and with a total length of 7 inches, is just enough to provide you with a firm grip and hand control.

The blades are good and maintain their edge for a long time, and while the handle is plastic ABS it is comfortable and light. While a lot of the focus has been placed on the blades, the handle is actually pretty good and more than adequate. The thumb studs are a thoughtful addition and helps with one-hand opening, and the liner lock serves as a safety feature.

There’s a pocket clip for increased stability and there’s a nice lanyard hole as well. Replacing the blade might take a bit of getting used to if it’s your first time to use this knife, but it won’t take long before you get the hang of it.

The Piranta is not as feature packed as other skinning knives, but as far as functionality is concerned it’s a winner. Cleaning game is easy and quick, and the blade doesn’t dull as quickly as those on other skinning knives. No question the extra blades come in handy when you’re out skinning the whole day, but that doesn’t mean the blades are throwaways as the quality is high.

Whether you’re a sportsman, rancher or hunter, or just want a dependable knife in your hands, the Piranta Z should be on your watch list.

Pros 

  • Very sharp
  • Comes with 12 replacement blades
  • Durable sheath
  • Light and easy to carry

Cons

  • A longer blade would be better

Specifications

  • Knife Material: rubber side panels, orange plastic handle
  • Total Length: 7 1/4"
  • Blade Length: 2 3/4"
  • Blade Type: folding blade

Havalon Bolt Knife

Editor Rating:

When we talk about the best skinning knife for the money, several factors come into play such as cost efficiency, and the Bolt is one of those. There are 12 replacement blades included so if the first one has dulled, just replace it. All the blades are constructed from 60A steel and should last a long time.

At 7 3/8 inches long, the knife remains compact, and the ABS handle with rubber grip inserts actually does a decent job as far as grip and comfort are concerned. The blades are thick and durable, and each one should hold its own for more than a few skinning sessions.

The blades are multifunctional and sharp enough to handle different types of skinning, and the ambidextrous studs are most welcome. When you consider the fact a lot of these knives are for right handers, it’s really a nice touch. Nylon belt holster and pocket clips are provided, and together they add a lot to its overall value. When you take the handle and blade together, it just makes precision cuts easier.

As a skinning knife the Bolt does a fantastic job skinning deer and other game. Cutting is smooth and doesn’t require as much effort as with other knives, and it also works on hog skins too. One of the most common problems with a typical skinning knife is the blade dulls when used on hog and similar skins, but the Bolt can get through it with just one blade.

The Havalon Bolt Knife is built for the serious hunter, so if you’re after a skinning knife that offers good value for your money, mark this one.

Pros 

  • Very sharp blade
  • Exceptional skinning
  • Good for cleaning
  • Durable

Cons

  • Cannot be used on very hard materials like bone

Specifications

  • Knife Material: black rubber grip inserts, ABS shock green handle
  • Total Length: 7 3/8"
  • Blade Length: 2 3/4" blades
  • Blade Type: folding blade

Outdoor Edge Razor Lite

Editor Rating:

Outdoor isn’t as well-known as the other brands, but if you’re on the lookout for a skinning knife for sale, this is worth a look. It is affordable and with half a dozen blades included offers good value for your money. 

You can sharpen the blades yes, but that’s good only for up to a certain point so having replacements on standby is a nice touch.The 3 ½ inch blade is sharp out of the box, and the handle feels comfortable in your hands. Cutting and slicing is smooth and accurate, and replacing the blade is simple as you just need to remove the lock. The feel is nice and the rubber sticks on so your grip remains strong even if your hand is sweaty.

The blade is not just sharp but stiff. The blades also retain their edge and comparable to more expensive skinning knives. The sheath is adequate and while it’s effective for daily tasks, it is really meant for use in hunting. Skinning game is seamless and for the price more than sufficient.

The release mechanism and handle are easy on the hands, and it is ergonomic. It’s sturdy enough to be used to skin hogs, and if you’ve got a lot of game to go through, no problem as you just dispose of the blade when it gets dull and replace it with another one.

And with regards to the blade’s quality, it is top of the line. To put it in perspective, a single blade can skin four hogs, so with six of these, the Outdoor Razor Lite is an ideal hunting companion.​

Pros 

  • Comes with half a dozen blades
  • Blade replacement is easy
  • Nonslip grip
  • Versatile

Cons

  • The grip can be tricky to get out of the sheath

Specifications

  • Knife Material: Kraton handle
  • Total Length: 8"
  • Blade Length: 3-1/2"
  • Blade Type: folding

RUKO Genuine

Editor Rating:

When we talk about the best skinning knife, the Ruko Genuine needs to be mentioned as it is right up there with the best.

The 3 1/8 inch 440A stainless steel blade is razor sharp, and the inclusion of a gut hook goes to emphasize its dedication to skinning. The blade doesn’t just look impressive however, as it is also sharp and skins game like a knife going through butter.

A lot has been said about the Genuine Handcrafted Deer Horn Crown Handle, and it’s really as good as advertised. Combine this with the solid pommel and sharp blade and you’ve got the ideal skinning / hunting knife. The leather sheath looks and feels good and the lifetime warranty is always welcome.

This Ruko knife is also available in a set where it’s paired with a caping knife. If you don't need the caping knife however, this Ruko will be more than enough for skinning. At just 6.8 ounces the Ruko Genuine is light and easy to carry. Design wise it’s been developed with comfort and flexibility in mind so you have control over the movements.

The ergonomic shape makes it comfortable to hold, and the multifunctional blade makes this the ideal companion when you’re skinning game. The Ruko is a versatile knife and is especially good for deer hunting and similar activities. The quality is high and the attention to detail is something you don’t see often in skinning knives. Lastly, the knife fits nicely on a hunting belt and should last a lifetime.

Pros 

  • Has a lifetime warranty
  • Solid deer horn handle
  • Sharp blade
  • High quality design

Cons

  • Grip could be a little firmer

Specifications

  • Knife Material: 440A stainless steel
  • Total Length: 8 Inches
  • Blade Length: 3-1/8 Inches
  • Blade Type: fixed blade

Skinning Knife Buyers Guide

The gut hook is an optional feature, but a lot of hunters actually consider it indispensable. As the best skinning knife reviews will point out, a gut hook is a blade that hunters use to simplify skinning and dressing. With the semi-circular set in the knife’s spine, it lets you remove an animal’s skin and clean it. Most skinning knives have a version with and without a gut hook.

The blade style is something else you need to consider, and there are three choices, a drop point, clip point and skinning blade. The clip point has been used for hundreds of years and used on the Bowie knife and its derivatives. It’s called a clip point because it does look like a portion has been clipped off. A clip point blade is great for puncturing and for general all-purpose work, though you need to be careful when field dressing so you don’t rupture anything.

A drop point starts from the spine to the tip and has a curved lower point. A drop point blade offers greater durability and control, and the large belly makes it ideal for slicing. The tip is more controllable too, and its ability to prevent nicks has made it the ideal choice for skinning and hunting blades. Another option is the semi-skinner which has a curving spine that moves up and down to the point.

Folding vs. Fixed Blades

Conventional wisdom holds that a fixed blade is more durable, and in many cases that is true. Another advantage of a fixed knife is the lack of joints and moving components makes it easier to clean. However, a folding fillet knife takes up less room and could have multiple blades for performing different tasks.

In the past your best option was the fixed blade, but as our reviews show, there are excellent folding skinning knives you can buy as well.

Other Features to Consider

A hand guard is often found on skinning and hunting knives and with good reason: if your hand is sweaty or you’re dressing an animal, your grip could slip and cut yourself with the blade. With a well-designed hand guard you can focus on dressing and skinning as your hand is safe.

All good skinning knives have a nonslip, ergonomic handle, and there is no need for a lengthy explanation for this. Skinning animals can be taxing on your hands so an ergonomic handle is a must. A nonslip grip is just as essential so your hand doesn’t slip while you’re dressing. As the reviews above show, skinning knives are made from different materials so it’s up to you to decide which one to get.

Serration is not common in skinning knives, but some have it. For the most however it’s something you should avoid because the serration does not help when skinning.

Last but not the least is the manufacturer’s reputation. How long have they been manufacturing skinning knives? Do they have a good reputation among customers? Are their prices competitive?

Conclusion

Looking for the best skinning knife online is no different from that of other products. You need to consider your daily requirements and purchase the knife that meets them. One of the most common mistakes made by first timers is putting too much emphasis on cost, but your first priority needs to be functionality, so good luck!

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