Knife Test: Alan Blackwood’s D3 Skinner


The blade of Alan Blackwood’s field-grade skinner shows some of the smudges from the test administered to it by BLADE® field editor Kim Breed.

Alan Blackwood’s D3 Skinner Tackles Deer, Squirrel and More

By MSG Kim Breed, 5th Special Forces (retired)

    As hunting season was fast approaching, I told knifemaker Alan Blackwood I would like to test one of his new and improved skinners. I received a knife that looked good and felt even better. Now to the woods to see how the skinner performs.

Squirrels ‘n Such

As luck would have it on the whitetail side, I was striking out—not good for the knife or me. However, I did manage to remove some nuisance squirrels from Mrs. Elder’s house that were chewing holes in her log cabin home. The skinner’s blade easily parted the squirrel skin so I could finish the cleaning. The wide blade came in handy while removing the heads and tails, keeping my fingers away from the cleaning board while applying pressure to crunch through bones.

    While the squirrels soaked, I did some cutting tests. I stropped the edge to clean it up and started in on some dense foam. The knife has a sweet spot for cutting right at the blade belly. The dense foam parted easily with a nice, slick pull cut. Since I was at the cutting board already, I grabbed some 3/8-inch sisal rope. Crunch, crunch, crunch—man this steel really cuts rope aggressively! After 83 cuts I had a little sliding going on and noticed the edge had a wire burr. A few strops on the leather took care of it and the edged was back to hair-popping sharpness.

    As long as my list of honey-do’s was keeping me out of the woods, I had a new batch of pine to cut and whittle. I really like the way the skinner feels for whittling. The knife is very easy to control and, when I wanted to power cut, the wide blade bit even better. The rounded-off handle really form fit my hand as I applied pressure—and then I hit a hard knot. The blade still cut but the convex edge wanted to roll away from the knot. No problem. I opted to use a soft-blow hammer to drive the blade through the knot. It worked and there was no damage to the edge.

    As I was on a roll and not hunting, I decided to do the brass-rod edge-flex test. I did not know how the blade’s D3 tool steel would handle it as it was the first time I had tested a knife of D3. With gloves and safety glasses on, I pulled the edge across the brass rod. A little hump formed and followed the stroke of the knife to the tip, then returned to normal. The edge did not chip or stay bent—a perfect flex test result indicating spot-on heat treatment.

Skinning/Quartering Marathon

We had a little cold snap and that changed my luck. I harvested two does on a Monday and two more the following Wednesday. It was time to see what the skinner could do. I was in for a skinning-and-quartering marathon! The skinner was aggressive on the skin and meat. I was able to skin and quarter four good-sized deer in two hours, which is fast considering I could hang only one at a time and had to return to the backyard to fetch each deer carcass. After I washed the blade, it would still shave hair.

    The little skinner comes with a nicely tooled 8-ounce, vegetable-tanned leather snap sheath by Steve Stapleton of B&E Shoe Service. The sheath really makes the skinner pop.

Great Hunter Package

As far as skinners go, this is a great one. It stays sharp and is very comfortable in the hand. It is a great package for any hunter.

For more information contact Alan Blackwood, 32082 Sidehill Rd., Rutland, OH 45775 740-742-2431 e-mail


Knife: Field-grade skinner

Maker: Alan Blackwood

Blade Length: 3.25”

Blade Material: D3 tool steel

Rockwell Hardness: 58 HRC

Handle: Micarta®

Overall Length: 7.25”

Sheath: 8-oz., vegetable-tanned leather snap model by Steve Stapleton

Maker’s List Price: $125

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