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Best Skinning Knives Reviewed and Rated

last updated Oct 08, 2019

Well if you’re going to hunt your own food, or fish for your own food, the time comes when you’re going to have to gather up the day’s work and begin the process of prepping it for the dinner table. No matter if you’re a fisherman, or a bird hunter or go for even bigger game, there’s no doubt there is little joy to be had in scaling and gutting a fish or picking the shot out of your duck or pheasant, or skinning that deer you just bagged. No, fun, at, all! But it’s gotta be done and so we’re here to make it a bit easier by offering you the best skinning knives we’ve managed to find out there on the market. These babies will combine toughness with no-slip handles and hopefully to make this tough job just a bit easier.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research

icon
 Havalon Piranta Z
98.6/100 our score
Model
99
Weight
98.5
Features
98
Accessories
100
Size
98.3
Havalon Piranta Z
Why is it better?

Multiple blades remove the need for sharpening

Sharp out of the box

The small size makes it great for fiddly work

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
 Havalon Piranta Z
Test Winner: Havalon Piranta Z
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Researched Sources
32
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
27
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
11
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
50
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
Kevin Enochs
By Kevin Enochs:

To help provide interested customers with more up-to-date information, we regularly update this information. In today’s update, we added three products: the Buck Knives 113, the Mossberg, and the Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner. To ensure you always have the latest information, be sure to stop by periodically for updates.

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#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.6
Model
99 %
Weight
98.5 %
Features
98 %
Accessories
100 %
Size
98.3 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.11.19)
Amazon Link
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.4
Model
97 %
Weight
96.3 %
Features
97 %
Accessories
96 %
Size
96.5 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.11.19)
Amazon Link
$28.90
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95
Model
95 %
Weight
95 %
Features
95 %
Accessories
95 %
Size
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.11.19)
Amazon Link
$43.29
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.2
Model
95 %
Weight
94.7 %
Features
94 %
Accessories
93.7 %
Size
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.11.19)
Amazon Link
$45.34
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Model
93.2 %
Weight
94 %
Features
93 %
Accessories
92 %
Size
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.11.19)
Amazon Link
$49.95
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Model
91.4 %
Weight
92 %
Features
91 %
Accessories
91.3 %
Size
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.11.19)
Amazon Link
$13.99
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.4
Model
89 %
Weight
88.4 %
Features
89 %
Accessories
88.2 %
Size
88 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.11.19)
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$15.85
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86
Model
86 %
Weight
86.7 %
Features
87 %
Accessories
86.2 %
Size
85 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.11.19)
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$32.28
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.4
Model
84 %
Weight
83.8 %
Features
83.2 %
Accessories
84 %
Size
83 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.11.19)
Amazon Link
$212.94
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
80.6
Model
80 %
Weight
81 %
Features
81.6 %
Accessories
80 %
Size
81 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.11.19)
Amazon Link
$132.90

10 Best Skinning Knives

1. Havalon Piranta Z

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.6
 Havalon Piranta Z
Amazon Link
Model
99
Weight
98.5
Features
98
Accessories
100
Size
98.3
best offer for today
Amazon Link
Pros:

Multiple blades remove the need for sharpening

Sharp out of the box

The small size makes it great for fiddly work

Cons:

Changing blades is potentially dangerous

Blades have been known to fall off during use

This is the baby brother of the Baracuta-Blaze and provides the smaller option for fine knife work and smaller game. Keeping a sharp knife is as easy as swapping blades with the Havalon Piranta Z. A no-fuss mechanism makes this easy. The Piranta Z comes with 12 replacement blades; keeping you in the game for longer.

Precise
Surgical performance is the intent of these knives. The short blades make the Piranta Z well suited to skinning smaller game and fine work associated with camping out. Again, changing blades can pose some difficulty.

Features and Specifications
This one has a tough handle that comes in two different color choices. You also recieve a nylon holster with a clip for your pocket. This clip can be removed if you perfer. Also included in your purchase are a remarkable 12 replacement blades.

Cost and Value
The Piranta Z costs a little less than its big brother, the Baracuta, and won’t break the bank. Replacement blades can add up over time.

2. Skinner – Victorinox

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.4
6” Skinner – Victorinox
Amazon Link
Model
97
Weight
96.3
Features
97
Accessories
96
Size
96.5
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$28.90
Pros:

Made in Switzerland

Fantastic economy

Proven ‘working’ knife

Cons:

Sheath not included

Victorinox makes some of the highest quality knives available in terms of steel. This economic knife makes light work of big game skinning. The steel used in the construction of Victorinox knives sets them apart. If you’re looking for a blade of ultimate reliability at the lowest cost of this list; then this is the choice.

Small and Mighty
The best value for money around. Having a 6” blade, this knife can be awkward for small game but performs well for large animals and species that require lots of knife-work to the skin – such as wild boar.

Handle
The design of the handle is not only comfortable but it provides you with a pretty decent grip. Two things you need when maneuvering your knife in order to process your prize effectively.

Cost and Value
This is the cheapest knife in the list, but don’t let that fool you. These knives are cheap because they’re targeted towards professionals like butchers that aren’t looking for fancy items; simply top quality products.

3. Havalon Baracuta-Blaze

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95
Havalon Baracuta-Blaze
Amazon Link
Model
95
Weight
95
Features
95
Accessories
95
Size
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$43.29
Pros:

Multiple blades remove the need for sharpening

Highly visible handle won’t get lost in the woods

Sharp out of the box

Cons:

Changing blades is potentially dangerous

Fine gauge blades lose the edge

For anyone that has trouble keeping their knives sharp, Havalon produce skinning knives with replaceable blades. When one’s dull, simply swap it for another! Keeping a sharp knife is as easy as swapping blades with the Havalon Baracuta. A no-fuss mechanism makes this easy, and the Baracuta is also compatible with serrated and filleting blades for a 3 in 1 knife.

The Blade
Sharp straight out of the box they perform well. Never hassle with sharpening your knife again. With this option, you simply change out the blade once it becomes dull.

Easy to travel with
Being able to bring your knife in the field is sometimes an advantage. For some, carrying a blade on their side just doesn't work. For those people, this little number will fold easily for carrying in your pocket.
Cost and Value
A mid-range knife in terms of cost, the Baracuta-Blaze won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Replacement blades can add up over time.

4. Buck Knives 113

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.2
Buck Knives 113
Buck Knives 113
Buck Knives 113
Amazon Link
Model
95
Weight
94.7
Features
94
Accessories
93.7
Size
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$45.34
Pros:

Holds It’s Edge

Ergonomic Design

Smooth Skinning Sweep

Easy to Handle

Cons:

Handles Tend to break and Loosen

This is a powerful little blade that’s going to hold an edge like a boss, it’s corrosion-resistant so it’s good for all the weather and it comes with a unique ergonomic design that’ll keep it from slipping in your hand. And finally, and for some the best of all, it’s made right here in the United States of America. So this is a blade for hunters and patriots.

Optimized for skinning
This blade is built to skin. It has a narrow tip and a broad curved blade that’s built to give you a smooth skinning sweep that will cut through lots of layers or tough areas of gristle that might snag up a lesser knife. The point is also canted at a downward angle to lessen the chance that you’ll accidentally cut through the hide.

Ergonomic Classical Design
The handle is built to fit securely and safely in your hand. The no-slip handle ensures that you won’t damage yourself or the hide by losing your grip on a slippery handle. It’s compact with a wide curving flange between the hilt and the blade to up the safety factor.

Cost and Value
A great knife at a great price. We like the look of this blade and we like its functionality as well. It holds its edge will last forever comes with a warranty and at the end of the day, it’s going to help you get the least fun part of hunting behind you as quickly as possible.

5. Outdoor Edge SwingBlade

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Outdoor Edge SwingBlade
Outdoor Edge SwingBlade
Outdoor Edge SwingBlade
Amazon Link
Model
93.2
Weight
94
Features
93
Accessories
92
Size
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$49.95
Pros:

Two specialized blades

Unique design

Sturdy construction

Cons:

Effectively a fixed-blade in terms of the total length

A novel approach to multi-blade knife design; the SwingBlade offers a conventional skinning knife as well as a specialized gutting blade designed not to pierce internal organs when opening up an animal.

Functions well
The design of the SwingBlade is great for keeping one blade sharp for specific uses. The cutting blade has a rounded blunt tip to lessen the chances of bursting internal organs while gutting an animal. Saving this blade for the task frees up the other, conventional blade for skinning.

Grip
The grip is one of the most important factors for determining what makes a good knife in general. The rubber used here ensures you can hold a firm grip in even the messiest of situations.

Cost and Value
This knife is another mid-range option. Two blades become very handy in a range of situations, however, and greatly increase the value for money. A good choice for those who want the added safety of a specifically designed cutting blade. This blade design is a better choice than gut hooks as it’s far easier to sharpen.

6. Mossberg Fixed Blade Knife

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Mossberg Fixed Blade Knife
Mossberg Fixed Blade Knife
Mossberg Fixed Blade Knife
Amazon Link
Model
91.4
Weight
92
Features
91
Accessories
91.3
Size
90
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$13.99
Pros:

Forefinger Hole

Small But Durable Blade

Works on Small and Big Game

Grippy Handle

Cons:

Loses Edge Quickly

Now, this skinning blade really looks the part. There’s just no way you’re going to be able to mistake this for anything but a top-notch skinning blade. It has a huge curved blade designed to cut through layers of tissue cleanly and easily. It looks fantastic and that no-slip handle is going to ensure that you get the job done precisely and safely.

Forefinger Hole
You didn’t think you needed one of these until you saw it on this knife and trust us once you use it there’s no going back. This Forefinger hole ensures that you can put some muscle into your skinning and this knife is going to stay put in your hand and it also helps guarantee precision cutting. A great little addition to an already great knife.

Small But Plenty Big
This knife is unique in that it’s going to work really well on small animals because it’s just not that big a knife. At the same time, the large blade surface will get the job done on the biggest buck you’ve ever bagged with no problem at all. It just works.

Cost and Value
This knife comes at a great price. It looks cool, it’s incredibly functional and it has a few extra features like the forefinger hole and carrying case that make it extra special.

7. Elk Ridge

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.4
Elk Ridge
Elk Ridge
Amazon Link
Model
89
Weight
88.4
Features
89
Accessories
88.2
Size
88
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$15.85
Pros:

Two knives for the price of one

Affordable

Textured handles

Nylon Sheath

Cons:

Knives could be sharper

Designed specifically for hunting this Elk Ridge knife comes prepared to help you skin even the thickest of catch. Featuring a 7-inch straight edge hunting/skinning knife as well as a 6-1/2-inch gut hook knife this set is one that should be a part of your hunting kit.

Double the value
You are getting two high-quality knives for the price of one. Additionally, you are getting a sheath to keep your knives protected from the elements.

Holds an Edge
A dull knife is most definitely a useless one as well. You want your blade to hold its edge for as long as possible. After all, sharpening a knife while on the go can be troublesome, to say the least.

Cost and Value
If you are looking for quality at an affordable price point this is an excellent option. Consider these the perfect addition to your skinning and hunting kit.

8. Mini Tac Skinner

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86
Mini Tac Skinner
Amazon Link
Model
86
Weight
86.7
Features
87
Accessories
86.2
Size
85
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$32.28
Pros:

Trailing Point blade design

Thin blade easy to work

Snug-fitting sheath

Cons:

Handle ergonomics compromised by shortness and narrowness

The Mini Tac Skinner offers a long cutting edge for the length of the blade, coupled with secure handle design. The Trailing Point blade design of the Mini Tac gives a long cutting edge to the blade. This is great when lots of knife-work is needed during the skinning process.

Large cutting surface
The Mini Tac Skinner is a good option for anyone after an increased cutting surface. This design is well suited to animals that require a lot of knife-work to remove the hide. It may not be the most ergonomic choice for extended work.

Sheath
The sheath for this one makes travel a little more practical. It comes with a small chain so that you can hook it through the zipper of your gear bag. Making it accessible when you need it the most.

Cost and Value
The Mini Tac Skinner is an economical option for those after a modern knife design and plenty of cutting surface length.

9. Fox River Hunter

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.4
Fox River Hunter
Amazon Link
Model
84
Weight
83.8
Features
83.2
Accessories
84
Size
83
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$212.94
Pros:

Versatile skinning knife design

High-quality craftsmanship

Made in the USA

Lifetime Warranty

Cons:

Cost

The Fox River Hunter is an elegant knife that will perform to the highest degree under any circumstances. Several handle material options are available for the Fox River Hunter. Underlying the cosmetic appearance, though, is a well-crafted knife of top quality.

Good quality
This is a high-quality knife in terms of components, design and looks. The cost of the knife is prohibitive, but considering the product itself, it may be a worthwhile investment for anyone who really likes their knives.

Size
With having a shorter blade this will be the perfect addition for all those small game hunters out there. We know it can be tricky to maneuver a longer blade to skin a smaller sized animal. That made the decision to add this one a definite no brainer.

Cost and Value
The Fox River Hunter is the most expensive option on this list. It does, however, offer the peace of mind of being made in the USA, and comes with a lifetime warranty.

10. Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
80.6
Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner
Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner
Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner
Amazon Link
Model
80
Weight
81
Features
81.6
Accessories
80
Size
81
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$132.90
Pros:

Leather Sheath

Contoured Handle

Holds It’s Edge

Stainless Steel Construction

Cons:

Blade Chips Easily

A simple but effective blade that holds it’s edge and simply put is going to be an efficient and great way to get the job done. It’s a classic blade with a serrated back edge and a solid wood handle. Just the tool you need at the end of the day.

Contoured Handle
Some knives have forefinger holes, some have grippy knobby handles but this contoured blade nestles securely in your palm so you won’t lose your grip on it just when you need it most.

Leather Sheath Included
You don’t think much about this until that crummy plastic sheath breaks right open. A nice leather sheath is going to make sure you’re knife stays safe and sound until you need it.

Cost and Value
This is a fairly pricey knife but Benchmade makes a really great blade so we can count on its value and its edge and its thoughtful construction.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Model

The blade design is the main distinguishing feature of a skinning knife. Traditional skinning knives are built on the ‘trailing point’ design; having an upward-curving blade with its point extending above the spine of the blade. This gives an increased cutting area along the curve of the blade; meaning fewer strokes are needed.

While this is well suited to working on an animal that’s already been ‘opened up’; a traditional skinner can be awkward in the initial stages of skinning. ‘Drop point’ blades are well suited to performing the initial cuts when skinning and opening the animal up. These blades are also useful for fine knife-work associated with caping animals for mounts. Fixed blade knives are traditionally preferred for skinning. This is due mainly to personal preference as a folding knife offers reduced size and increased safety when not in use. A knife with a blade locking mechanism is the safest choice for folding knives.

Weight

When shopping for a skinning knife, you will want to consider one that is lightweight. Carrying one that is heavy can be unfavorable for most hunters. Since the knife weighs more it is naturally more difficult to hold. This extra weight has a tendency to weigh down the hand, leading to hand fatigue that can ultimately result in cuts. A heavy knife is also burdensome to carry while walking in the woods.

Features

One of the more important components of a skinning knife is an ergonomic handle. First, you will want one that has a non-slip, comfortable handle. A thicker handle is better when skinning, as a thin handle can result in your hand running up to the blade while striking on a hard surface, like a bone. In addition to good traction, you will also want one that is made out of durable materials, so it can endure prolonged usage and will not break. The handle should be ergonomic, non-slip, comfortable, weather-proof, and durable.

Accessories

Knives that included a sheath ranked highly. As a lot of work is undertaken in the field, a sheath is vital for containing the knife and keeping the owner safe when not using it. Belt sheaths are most practical in a range of situations, but require that the knife is held snugly or fastened in place by a lanyard or clip – so that there isn’t a risk of losing the knife when pushing through obstacles or through bouncing out.

Size

Shorter blades are preferred for skinning knives. These are most practical as they are easy to use and are very maneuverable. They offer good control for fine workaround joints and when caping animals. Shorter blades also require less work in sharpening and honing.

For skinning big game, longer blades become more useful as it isn’t practical to make many small cuts with a short blade. The longest blade choices on the list are best suited to the big game. For a smaller game such as squirrels, rabbits, and beaver, a good size blade is 3 – 4 inches. This type of game is generally between 15 to 50 pounds in weight and has shorter hide. If using a longer blade, it would be extremely difficult to skin a rabbit.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

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expert tips icon
Use your knife as little as possible

The most important detail concerning skinning, that many overlooks, is to use the knife as little as possible. It’s actually quite easy to skin a mid-sized game animal with approximately twelve strokes of the knife! After hanging the animal by its hind legs, a good skinning knife opens up the hide and frees it from the extremities of the legs; at which point the skinner pulls the hide away from the carcass and works it loosely with their fists.

Material quality

Quality steel is the most important consideration for any knife. Poor quality steel may never attain great sharpness; it may become dull quickly, or maybe so hard that sharpening is nigh impossible. Quality High Carbon Stainless steel is a good choice for most situations as it has fine sharpness and holds its edge well, and isn’t prone to rust or blemishes.

Keep in mind the customer service of the product you prefer

Choosing a knife from a well-regarded manufacturer is a sensible purchase. Many fixed blade knives and well-constructed folding knives have little in the way of parts that can malfunction. Faults most often occur in handle materials and sheaths; or from heavy-duty work. Manufacturers like Buck and Victorinox are highly regarded for their product quality and reliable support.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: What knife brand is best?

a:

There are many well-regarded manufacturers that produce great knives. For quality and economy, companies like Victorinox provide a range of knives aimed at the professional market. Buck is a long-standing American manufacturer who retains the production of most of its knives – but checks before purchase. Smaller-scale production companies like Bark River offer a good, but expensive product.

q: How do I keep my knife sharp?

a:

Apart from learning the techniques involved in sharpening and honing knives, there are a few simple steps that can be taken to ensure a sharp knife. Do all cutting on a wooden or plastic cutting board to protect the blade edge. When skinning an animal, insert the blade under the skin and cut outwards – cutting through hair quickly dulls a blade.

q: What’s the best skinning knife design?

a:

For most small to a mid-sized game, an all-rounder drop point blade with a fair amount of belly (blade depth) ensures adequate cutting surface on a relatively short knife. This design allows the user to complete fine knife-work as well as generalize skinning and slicing. For big game, a longer knife is required.

q: What’s the best knife-sharpening tool?

a:

Ask any professional and the answer will be a whetstone and quality steel. A whetstone is the best choice for sharpening a blade as it’s lubricated by water. Oilstones do the same thing but require the user to have suitable oil on hand – which is an extra thing to forget. Different grades of whetstones are available.

A good choice is a stone with two faces – one moderately coarse to quickly sharpen the edge; and a fine face to begin polishing the edge. The final part is the use of steel to polish the blade to a fine degree of sharpness. It’s common to spend more on quality steel than the knife you sharpen with it. Many other sharpening tools exist on the market and offer varying success.

q: What should I look for in a sheath?

a:

A good sheath keeps you and your knife protected. Generally, it should be snug fitting so that it takes a little effort to insert and remove the knife. When inserting the knife, it should slide ‘home’ with a positive grip – if it just drops in it’s likely to fall out. Deep sheaths that only expose the end of the handle help keep the knife secure. A shallow sheath holding mainly the blade is fine if there is a wrap-around clip to secure the knife in place. A belt sheath is the most practical but can get in the way when sitting down.