Best Skinning Knives: When You Dress The Kill


When Brown Is Down You Need A Trustworthy Blade. These Skinning Knives Have The Chops To Make Quick Work Of A Dirty Job.

You can have the fanciest camo and the best rifle money can buy, but if your skinning knife is dull and beat up it’s not going to amount to much after the moment of truth.

A good skinning knife is a key component of any hunter’s kit and unlike its name suggests, most are used for more than simply caping your kill. Generally speaking, the best skinners are typically do-all hunters–as quick through a deer’s pelvic bone as it is removing hide.

True enough, there are some specialty blades out there (we hit a few of those) and if they fit into your system then they’re the perfect addition. But no matter what style knife you choose, all skinners will share the same basic asset–the ability to maintain an edge, for obvious reasons.

Why Sharpness Matters

Picture this, you put an elk down right as the sun dips below the horizon. Your breath is visible as you set to dress it and already thick flakes are falling from the sky. Do you want a knife you’ll sharpen every third cut?

In these circumstances, expediency demands a sharp blade. But so does safety. As most likely know–but always bears repeating–there’s a greater chance of cutting yourself with a dull knife than with a sharp one. Given you’ll make awkward cuts a challenging angles when dressing game, main times under the dim glow of a headlamp, it’s a good idea to have a tool that won’t endanger you. Unless you like the trill of working on your tourniquet skills miles from a medical facility.

Styles Of Skinning Knives

Given it has its own moniker, there are dedicated skinning knives in this world. Generally speaking, most makers outfit them with an accentuated belly and a fine edge, allowing the blade to work naturally with the user’s cutting motion. Additionally, the tip is positioned out of the way or is less prominent, ensuring you don’t end up with a nasty mistake, such as a gut puncture.

All that said, any knife is potentially a skinner if it’s sharp and you know how to use it. However, in most cases, hunters will find a few general aspects most good skinning knives share in common:

  • Highly Controllable: Cleaning and skinning require controlled cuts, lest you butcher the meat or perforate the cape. Controllable can mean different things to different people, but in many cases, it equates to a smaller blade with a skinner.
  • Fine Blade: Yeah, a serrate blade might aid in getting through bone, but it will make a mess of meat and connective tissue.
  • Easy Maintenance: Cleaning and skinning is a dirty, wet and sticky job–it’s not for a knife that must be handled with kid gloves.
  • Stays Sharp: As pointed out previously this is a safety and time aspect because you want to get back to camp ASAP with all your digits and all your blood.

Bear & Son Cutlery 7.25-Inch Stag Delrin Upswept Skinner

Bear & Son Cutlery 7.25-Inch Stag Delrin Upswept Skinner
Bear & Son Cutlery 7.25-Inch Stag Delrin Upswept Skinner

Our list starts with an offset fixed blade from Bear & Son Cutlery. The Stag Delrin is a tough, sweeping steel that is wider near the bolster before tapering toward the tip. This allows for the bulk of the skinning to happen by the ample belly, and the offset Stag Delrin handle provides an easy way to nimbly move the knife.

The 3.13-inch blade is made from 440 stainless with a hollow grind. The leather sheath keeps the knife protected. And the whole outfit is just 3.3 ounces, making it a lightweight option. The only downside for some, it’s a bit longer than many might require.

MSRP: $50.99

Gerber Gator Clip Point

Gerber Gator Clip Point
Gerber Gator Clip Point

The Gerber Gator looks mean, feels tough, and is strong enough to help you process your hunt with ease. The 420 HC stainless steel blade features a deep clip point that is excellent for doing fine knifework to get the last bit of skin off of the carcass. 

The blade is connected to a glass-filled nylon handle with a Gator Grip overmold that provides excellent grip even when bloody or wet. The lockback mechanism will keep the blade secure when in use, and the ballistic nylon sheath is just as tough and rugged as the knife itself.

When it comes to skinning knives the Gator is among the best and will serve you well for years.

MSRP: $62

Havalon Piranta-Z

Havalon Piranta-Z
Havalon Piranta-Z

The Piranta-Z from Havalon stands out from the rest of our list because of its changeable blades. It comes with a dozen 60A steel blades that easily clip into the sleek black polymer handle. The knife opens thanks to ambidextrous thumb stubs, handy for those times you only have one free hand. 

All of the additional blades are a huge advantage compared to some other knives. Accidentally clip a blade? Replace it with a new one in seconds. A blade goes dull midway through dressing? Remove it and change it in a snap. 

Maintenance is a breeze too. The back of the knife opens for easy cleaning, and the removable holster clip allows you to keep the knife secure while on a hunt. The one issue here is that if you have to cut any bone you’ll need another tool.

MSRP: $54.99

Argali Serac 

Argali Serac
Argali Serac 

Argali thought of almost everything with the Serac. At just 2.1 ounces it is insanely light, and the skeletonized handle allows for easy movement and adjustments when butchering a kill. The blade is made from S35VN stainless steel that holds an excellent edge and is durable enough to get into the guts and bones of a carcass.

This American-made blade is an excellent skinner but is just as good as an all-around hunting knife that can process an entire animal. The G10 scales provide an excellent grip that’s easy to maintain even when wet. The included Kydex sheath is just as robust as the knife itself.

MSRP: $209.99

Ka-Bar Becker Companion

Ka-Bar Becker Companion
Ka-Bar Becker Companion

Our list rounds out with a knife designed by legendary maker Ethan Becker. The Ka-Bar Becker Companion is a heavyweight in the world of skinning knives. It’s so tough it can handle splitting kindling for the fire as well as skinning a 10-point. 

The fixed blade is made from 1095 Cro-Van steel married to an Ultramid handle. Unlike many of the other knives on our list that come in weighing just a few ounces, the Becker Companion is 10.5 inches long and weighs one pound. The trade-off is that it’s beefier than the other knives and is able to cut through sturdier material, but it may not be the best for finite skinning and knife work.

Regardless, this all-around hunting knife is more than capable of skinning your next kill and even butchering it so you can sear it over the campfire before the sun goes down.

MSRP: $146.03

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