What kind of skinning knife do you use and why?

Knife type

  • Scalpel style replaceable (Havalon, tyto, goat Capra, etc)

    Votes: 62 32.6%
  • Knife style replaceable (outdoor edge & similar)

    Votes: 32 16.8%
  • “Super steel” knife

    Votes: 43 22.6%
  • Standard steel knife

    Votes: 53 27.9%

  • Total voters
    190

canyonhunter47

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Jul 6, 2018
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396
I’ve carried a Havalon and leatherman (usually skeletool) for a quite a while but I’m looking to change it up and I’m not sure which direction go and and pare down to what I truly need.

For 8-ish ounces the havalon & skeletool combo covers a skinning knife, general use knife, pliers (good for cactus!), and a bit driver. It’s not bad but for that weight I wish it had more utility and I don’t like how much the Havalon folder gets gunked up (same with the outdoor edge)

This year I’m thinking of switching to a scalpel with a fixed handle and/or light fixed blade. (Plus using hemostats and a mini Swiss Army knife for cactus/cuticles/hangnails/leukotape for ~1.7 oz).

I’m not really a “knife person” but I like the idea of the fixed blade (benchmade’s, argali’s, esee’s, mora?) that can cover general use and field processing but there’s nothing quite a like a scalpel and the fixed handled ones are ~1 ounce. I’ve never really used a saw but I’m waffling on the bit driver and I’d prefer to at least break even on weight

Any thoughts?
 
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AK Troutbum

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Apr 22, 2012
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Chugiak, Alaska
For me it’s dependent on what I’m using it for. If it’s a mountain hunt for sheep or goats, I carry the lightest wt. skinning knife I have, a Kestrel skinner in steel. If I’m moose hunting I usually take a quality Ulu for skinning.


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letrbuck

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Jun 5, 2017
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NW Wyoming
Don't think it's considered a super steel, but the knife I typically bring is a custom piece I got from my brother in law. It's A2 tool steel with a good heat treat, got a shape I like, and it's pretty. I could go lighter, but I just plain like the knife, it holds an edge very well, and it just plain works for me. I go through a whole season without touching up the blade. Last year I skinned and quartered a pronghorn, mule deer, and 2 elk with it. Sharpened it at the end of the season and put it away for the year.

The havalon type are nice and light, and a new blade is super sharp. But they seem to dull quick enough and I've had a blade break or fly off too many times for me to carry one again.
 

NDGuy

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Feb 13, 2017
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ND
A Half Face Blade because I am Gucci

0e8aa16c88f5ae4f6366daf680d13346.jpg
 

Wetwork

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Feb 4, 2021
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Eastern Orreeegon
Our killer uses these Victorinox Wide Skinners to skin out our cattle and it seems like a lot of the industry use these as well. I have two in my butcher kit. For me I rarely have to skin out anything before I get home with it. https://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-VIC-40536-Wide-Skinning-Knife/dp/B00062AE76/ref=sr_1_11?crid=3LPNIQBX7IEL&keywords=victorinox+beef+skinning+blade+fibrox+pro+handle,+5",+black&qid=1644253311&sprefix=Victorinox+Beef+Skinnin,aps,514&sr=8-11

I don't do the boneless method yet, just old school gutting. And for that I use a Cold Steel bird and trout knife. Its nice when you are reaching clear up in there to have a nice knife that won't slip out of your hands. It works fine gutting elk, and it's pretty darn light, and seems to hold a good edge. https://www.amazon.com/Cold-Steel-BIRD-TROUT-KNIFE/dp/B000BYI5LQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2ENLV179NP6FW&keywords=cold+steel+bird+and+trout+knife&qid=1644254016&sprefix=Cold+Steel+bird,aps,277&sr=8-1

I also now wear cut proof gloves...its stupid not too, with them so cheap. All the pros from fish cleaners to butchers use them. Just got tired of getting knicked every seaon.
 
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svivian

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Mar 16, 2016
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Colorado
A Half Face Blade because I am Gucci

0e8aa16c88f5ae4f6366daf680d13346.jpg
I bet you don't leave that in a gut pile somewhere.... Damn those things are pricey. Good for you I'm jealous for sure as I have eyed several models of his.
 

svivian

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Mar 16, 2016
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1,869
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Colorado
I carry both a havalon and an outdoor edge, Both have their purpose. The havalon is a caping tool for detailed work. Outdoor edge is for everything else. If weight isn't an issue ill bring a real fixed blade knife.

Those who can't get through a whole elk with one blade with either the havalon or outdoor edge are not using them as effectively as they could. I see this all the time with guys who fillet fish. Some will dull a knife after 10 fish while others can do 50....

Also skip the saw and go gutless method IMO but to each their own
 

PathFinder

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Sep 8, 2014
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1,467
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Front Range, Colorado
I went away from replaceable blades after years of using them. I have an Iron Will K1 that goes on backpack trips. At home, I get the most use out of Victorionox paring knives. They are great for skinning because they flex and help avoid cutting holes by doing so.

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sickles107

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Joined
Jan 14, 2019
Messages
256
Location
Montana
For field use, I'm convinced a havalon (tyto) and a decent backup fixed blade is the best combo. Can usually take care of an elk with a few havalon blades, though having a backup is nice if you run out of blades, need to batton firewood, etc.. Have yet to find the "perfect" fixed blade. Currently use an esse izula, though wish it had less of a skinning type belly, and more of a point.
 

WCB

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Jun 12, 2019
Messages
2,548
I really liked Havalons for about 2 years then just faded back into using a fixed blade knife. I find I am a lot faster with a sharp fix blade in making the initial cuts as you can leverage them more and really move. I like the havalon for an extra in the pack and caping in the field. If I am going to shoulder mount something I cape it right there and take the bottom jaw off.

I also am liking the Havalon less and less for deboning. I don't hunt anywhere that I have to take bones out with me and especially deer no way in hell I'm making 2 trips. So, the bones come out. Again I like a basic fixed blade.

Spring Bear I will probably carry an actual wide skinning knife or a Beaver knife because I will obviously be full body skinning and I like sing them to "clean skin" and leave as little on the actual skin as possible.
 

OutHeavy

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Joined
Jul 18, 2020
Messages
53
Location
Altamont, CA
I carried buck fixed blades for a long time (102 & 103). When I started doing more backpack hunting I started obsessing about how heavy my knife was (and my sleeping bag, and my pad, and my camp shoes, and...it's an illness I can tell you share). I thought about switching out the heavy leather sheaths on my buck fixed blades with kydex ones. I wanted to go lighter and decided on the Argali Serac. For a multitool I carry the Gerber dime. All in, about 5 ounces. I still really like using the buck fixed blades and will continue to do so for their substance and sentimental value, but only when I'm not carrying a pack.
The crazy thing (or maybe not so crazy) is that i just made this knife purchase yesterday. Clearly it's the off season and backpackers are spending their free time once again obsessing about weight.
 

KoolBreeze

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Jul 2, 2016
Messages
383
An old Gerber Gator is what I use. Works great, sharpens quickly on the Work Sharp.
 

Werty

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May 28, 2019
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657
Location
Montana
I carry cheap knives. If I loose them, don't care. They hold an edge good and fit my hand.
 

Zappaman

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Mar 9, 2021
Messages
539
Location
Eastern Kansas
Gone from some very nice custom (heavier) knives, to lighter fixed 3-4" knives over the years. I skin about 6 bucks a year (some mine, some for an outfitter with guys who don't like to to the job I usually will do just to help them out- often giving a "lesson" when doing it). I also get to do a few pigs (when I get to Texas every few years).

Knife gets heavy after a while and so a short blade with a standard kick is preferred for skinning. Last year, in a pinch I used a (basic) 3" Kewshaw fold out with lousy steel that went dull after getting half the hide off. Not making that mistake again. A GOOD knife that keeps it edge razor sharp will make it through a FEW deer before needing a "steeling". My favorite is a "door" hand out from an RMEF I got 7 years ago-- WOW is it one of my best! (no mark on the blade except "China")

For gutting, I like a thinner, longer blade for cutting out (completely around the colon) I pull the colon/anus back after carving all round from both sides). Never understood "chopping" the pelvis to pull the guts through the colon last. So much easier to carve it out to the anus and pull it back through and drop it (and all guts) to the side of the animal. Just have to watch the blatter- don't puncture it (in any case)!
 

Lawnboi

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Mar 2, 2012
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North Central Wi
Lt Wright small northern hunter.

I can’t stand the change a blade knives, partially because of breakage, partially because I don’t care for the throw away mentality of them like many things now a days. That and I’m of the firm belief that every outdoorsman should know how to sharpen a damn knife.

DF86B9EC-CD64-4652-95B0-D50054F9462E.jpeg


The shape of this knife is perfect for cutting up animals. After a dozen plus deer with it I can’t think of a single thing I’d change
 

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JakeSCH

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Joined
Jun 14, 2020
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833
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San Diego, CA
I run a light weight custom knife with a "super steel". When it is sheath, It is the same weight as my havalon w/ 3 blades in the sheath and stays sharp through a full elk (no doubt it could do two, just haven't had an opportunity to try it yet).

Havalon's are significantly cheaper and work well, i've done several elk only using a havalon without issue. However, a nitpicking thing is that I have found that I do not like replacing the blades and I am always paranoid that I am going to leave blades in the field.
 

Wilderlife

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Joined
Feb 8, 2017
Messages
547
Location
Australia
I selected 'super steel knife' because the last year and a half I've been using knives that are s35vn. They've been fantastic. However, before I started using these knives I was happy to be using regular old 1095 knives.

In my experience, knowing how and where to cut is more important than the steel. Sure, tougher steel holds an edge longer but if you're the type of person who saws away at a joint, hoping to find the right spot, you'll dull a tough knife just as bad as a soft knife.

I also carry a small steel around with me so I can touch up whatever knife I'm using. I've cut up four or five fallow deer with a regular 1095 Dexter Russell 1375 without having to put it anywhere near a stone.

One of my s35vn knives - it's lighter than it looks.


Another one much more along the lines of a backcountry lightweight blade.


Another one of my favourite knives, with the steel I carry.
 
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