On all the hunts I’ve been fortunate to embark upon around the world, I almost always take only one knife aﬁeld. This knife has to be able to withstand punishment and perform to my liking, and it’s also got to be lightweight. When scaling granite peaks for mountain goats and sheep, ounces can feel like pounds after a few days.
MANY KNIVES ARE DESIGNED for speciﬁc purposes, but for hunting, I don’t feel as if I need multiple knives. On a recent hunt, I met up with a buddy in Alaska. It was his ﬁrst trip to the Last Frontier, so he wasn’t sure what to fully expect. He cracked open his gun case and inside were six knives, including one with a heavy, 12-inch-long blade and a ball compass on top. I laughed. He didn’t. “What are you doing?” I quizzed. “I didn’t know what knife to bring, so I brought a bunch,” he smirked.
We were going on a grizzly and black bear hunt across open tundra. About the only thing we needed a knife for was carrying out routine tasks, and to skin and butcher any bear we killed. In my opinion, a person needs only one knife for those tasks.
As with all ﬂy-in hunts to remote drop camps, weight is a concern with bush plane pilots. With strict weight limitations, and given the fact we were going to be gone for over a week, I wanted to take all the weight we could in food, clothes and essential gear, not knives we’d never use. When my buddy asked what knives I was taking, I held up one, a 3-inch-bladed Kershaw knife, speciﬁcally their Skyline model. “No, really, what knives are you bringing?” he asked again.
“Oh, I forgot this,” I smiled, holding up a compact sharpening steel. I explained how all skinning, ﬁeld dressing, caping and deboning can be done with one knife, and that it doesn’t have to be big. I’ve broken down numerous deer, elk, bear and African game with a 2-inch blade, and many with a 3-inch blade. Using bigger blades than that is ﬁne, if that’s what you’re comfortable with, but if you’re just embarking upon the world of hunting, big, bulky knives aren’t necessary.
This year marks my 40th year of big game hunting, and I’ve always kept things simple with my knife choices. You look for a knife that ﬁts your hand, keeps an edge, and is constructed with a handle that won’t slip when covered in blood, fat or water.
I know many hunters who take their personal-carry knives aﬁeld, and that’s great if that’s what they like. Some folks prefer ﬁxed blades over folding knives, and vice versa. Personally, I like a ﬁxed-blade knife with a handle that’s easy to clean of dried blood and gut content.
A VERY IMPORTANT FACTOR when choosing a hunting knife is getting one with quality steel that’s easy to attain an edge on. While softer blades may dull more easily than hard steel, they are easier to regain an edge on when in the ﬁeld. Knowing the anatomy of the animal you’re breaking down, and using the knife to cut, not saw or force through bones, will help in maintaining an edge on your knife. All cuts are easy to make and should not be forced, especially through joints and cartilage.
Animal fat can quickly dull a knife, which is why it’s critical to have a quality steel to easily hone that knife. At the same time, cutting through cartilage, tendons and ligaments can be tough on knives, making quality steel even more important. Having a blade you can hone in the ﬁeld – one that reacts to a good steel – is important in regaining that edge in order to continue safely and efficiently breaking down an animal.
While it’s occasionally unavoidable, try to refrain from cutting through hair and into dirt. Sometimes big animals like elk, moose and bear are impossible to move around by yourself, meaning a cut may slice through skin and hit dirt, which dulls a knife. When cutting the hide, do so from the skin side, not down through the hair. To do this, make a small hole where the cut will begin, then get the blade inside the skin, cutting upwards through the hide. This will help keep an edge and should allow you to get through multiple animals before having to sharpen your knife again.
When your knife does become dull in the ﬁeld, sharpen it right away, for a dull knife leads to bad cutting techniques, and that’s how accidents happen. When hunting, I rely on two simple yet very effective sharpeners. In my daypack, I’ll take one sharpening steel aﬁeld to touch up the knife while breaking down animals. My favorite is Kershaw’s Ultra-Tek blade sharpener, a 600-grit oval steel that’s very lightweight and works wonderfully in quickly regaining an edge. When back in camp, if I need to further sharpen the knife, I’ll use a whetstone or a Work Sharp guided ﬁeld sharpener.
Rarely do I take a compact folding saw aﬁeld when deer hunting, for a deer’s skull – the only part of an animal I use a saw on – isn’t so heavy that it needs to be split, like moose, caribou and elk do. When quartering big game in the ﬁeld, I don’t use a saw to split the pelvis or remove the legs, neck or ribs – that’s all done with a knife.
ONE WORD OF CAUTION when embarking on a big game hunt where you’ll be breaking down an animal in the ﬁeld, and that’s to be aware of the state’s recovery laws. Most states require a proof of sex to accompany the meat from the ﬁeld to camp or home. This is usually best retained by keeping the genitals attached to one hindquarter, and/or bringing the head of the animal out. When bringing the head out, if sawing off the antlers to cut down on weight you’re packing out, cuts are often required to be made below the eyes, so the eyes are intact. Some states require the meat to stay attached to leg bones, too, meaning complete boning out of meat while in the ﬁeld may not be legal.
If you will be transporting game heads across state lines, know that multiple states require the brain to be removed from the skull. This means you’ll need a saw to cut through the brain cavity, so be prepared. Prior to heading aﬁeld, make sure you know the meat recovery and transport laws of the state you’ll be hunting in.
Find a knife that works for you and familiarize yourself with how it handles. Practice at home, rubbing fat and blood on the handle and getting it wet to see how it performs. Once you know what a knife is capable of, as well as the anatomy of an animal and how to disarticulate its joints and muscles, you’ll see why a simple blade is all that’s really necessary. ASJ
Editor’s note: For copies of Scott Haugen’s comprehensive DVD, Field Dressing, Skinning & Caping Big Game, send a check for $20.00 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489. This, along with his many books, can be ordered online at scotthaugen.com.
Ontario Knife Company (OKC) is excited to announce the launch of its new website which features an updated design and a streamlined user experience, enabling visitors a comprehensive mobile-friendly resource for all of OKC’s knives, machetes, edged products and specialty tools. The new website supports the company’s mission of creating quality products and ways to continually provide access to both those products and information with a multitude of new features including maintenance education, third-party products reviews, news and more.
“Our website now mirrors the advancements we made in recent years improving our manufacturing processes, quality, and new product development,” said Deneb Pirrone, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for OKC. “The updated design aligns with the new look of our retail packaging and marketing creatives to provide customers with a consistent brand experience. The standardized design coupled with the site’s new UX makes it easier for customers to find – The Knife You Need When You Need a Knife.”
The main page of the new site allows visitors to easily navigate through the product categories of Home, Tools, Tactical, Survival and Hunting. This enables users to find the product or information they are looking for quickly and efficiently. Visitors can learn about the company, which employs advanced capabilities including a broad-spectrum of metal and plastic fabrication operations for OKC branded products as well as OEM manufacturing services. Additional content including knife maintenance recommendations and third party product reviews make the site a valuable resource of information both before and after a purchase of an OKC knife or tool.
Outdoor enthusiasts, hunters, campers, first responders, and chefs alike will find it a breeze to shop for their favorite OKC brands including Old Hickory, SPEC-PLUS, Agilite, Ontario Ranger, RAT, and Robeson. The improved shopping functionality of the site, along with thoughtful design, works to minimize the number of clicks making the shopping experience simple and straightforward. Visit the site at www.ontarioknife.com and see for yourself.
Founded in 1889, the Ontario Knife Company is an award-winning knife, cutlery, and tool manufacturer operating out of Upstate New York for over 125 years. OKC produces a wide range of tools, including cutlery and kitchenware, hunting and fishing knives, machetes, survival and rescue equipment, science and medical tools, and tactical knives. OKC has a long tradition of building knives and tools for the U.S. military, producing high quality equipment that has seen continuous service since WWII. In addition to being a major supplier to the U.S. Armed Forces, OKC leverages a network of distributors, dealers, and major commercial retailers to sell its products nationwide and internationally to over 30 countries. OKC’s custom manufacturing division Jericho Tool®, advances capabilities including a broad-spectrum of injection molding, tool and die, and machining operations to provide white label and OEM manufacturing services for consumer and industrial goods. Collectively OKC’s product lines and manufacturing services reach the house wares, sporting goods, tactical, security, law enforcement & first responders, education, science & medical, and industrial & agricultural industries.
For more information about Ontario Knife Company and its industry-leading line of advanced knives, machetes, edged products and specialty tools, contact Ontario Knife Company at P.O. Box 145-26 Empire Street · Franklinville, NY 14737 · Telephone (716) 676-5527 · Or visit www.ontarioknife.com. The Ontario Knife Company is a subsidiary of publicly traded Servotronics Inc. (NYSE – SVT).
Editor’s Note: For hi-res images and releases, please visit our online Press Room at
A knife is a tool, and you must choose the correct one for each speciﬁc job. While you can dig a hole with a spoon, a shovel works a lot better, and the same goes with knives.
Also, I don’t jump out of helicopters with a tactical knife clenched in my teeth to cut oﬀ the heads of the bad guys. I just like to hunt and ﬁsh, and gut, skin and cut up what I kill, so my advice comes from that perspective.
LET’S DISPEL A MYTH. Just because you skinned your ﬁrst bear with a certain knife doesn’t automatically mean that it is the best skinning knife. In fact, it may not even be a good skinning knife. It just means that it has some sentimental value.
Years ago, the Idaho Press Tribune ran a photo of a 12-year-old boy who had just shot his ﬁrst deer with an old Winchester .30-30. Beside him in the photo were his dad and granddad, who’d shot their ﬁrst deer with the same riﬂe. Do you think you could ever convince that kid that a .30-30 isn’t the best deer riﬂe? I wouldn’t even try.
So if your favorite uncle – the one who taught you how to hunt – entrusted you with his knife on his deathbed, then carry it and be happy. Who cares what I say? Just don’t try to tell me that it is the best design for every task.
Hunters can justify carrying four diﬀerent knives. These are: a clip point to cut the pattern (the initial cut when skinning), a drop-point knife to skin, a caping knife to skin around the eyes, ears and lips, as well as the feet of bears, and a boning knife to bone out your game.
Do I always carry all four? No. When I’m hunting hard in the mountains, I usually only carry two: a knife to skin my animal and a boning knife. I’ve skinned more than a hundred deer with a clip-point knife, because it’s a versatile choice. However, if you want to keep the hide or mount the head, it’s best if you use a drop point.
Let’s brieﬂy review each style of blade, and why they are best for a speciﬁc task.
The tip of this design sweeps upward and comes to a deﬁnite point, which allows you to stab into the hide and cut a pattern. The pattern is the initial cut you make down each leg, around the hocks and up the belly before you start removing the skin. You can skin your animal with a clip-point knife, but due to the shape of the blade, they have more of a tendency to cut holes in the hide while skinning. If you’re just skinning your deer so you can cut it up, then it doesn’t matter if you skin it with your clip point knife.
If I could only carry one knife, this would be it.
A drop-point knife is less likely to cut through the hide, and you can skin faster without being as careful. You’ll notice on a drop-point knife that the tip doesn’t sweep upwards like a clippoint knife. Although I can’t explain the mechanics of why, you’ll simply cut through the hide less often while skinning with a drop-point knife than with a clip-point knife.
If you plan to mount the animal head, you’ll want to carry a caping knife. A caping knife has a shorter, thinner blade with a deﬁnite point. This allows you to make intricate cuts around the eyes and lips of your trophy, as well as when skinning the feet on bears.
When I was a kid, we’d use a hunting knife for this job, but while working in beef production plants, I discovered what a real boning knife could do. I took what I learned there and applied it in my outdoor world.
To get a clean bone (which means to remove all the meat) you’ll want a semi-ﬂexible knife. You don’t want it too ﬂimsy or you won’t be able to control the blade while working. I favor a 6-inch boning knife, but have buddies who favor a 5-inch blade. I favor a semiﬂex, but some people prefer a superﬂex blade. It’s a matter of preference.
A SOFTER METAL BLADE is easier to sharpen, but it doesn’t stay sharp as long. A harder knife is more diﬃcult to sharpen but will keep an edge longer. Again, it’s not a matter of right or wrong, just personal preference.
If you’ve hiked in 7 miles and shoot an elk, it’s nice to have a knife that will hold an edge long enough to skin him so you don’t have to carry a sharpening stone. For that reason, I favor a knife that is hard and will keep an edge but that is not insanely hard. Something of the hardness of a Knives of Alaska knife is perfect.
What about straight blade versus fold-ups? Again, it’s a matter of preference. I like both, and sometimes interchange at the drop of a hat. However, if you choose a folder, make sure it has a locking blade so it doesn’t close on your hand while working, although nearly all folders are lock blades now.
There are several good manufacturers on the market. Choose which brand you prefer, and then pick one with the task-speciﬁc designs that I’ve listed above. And after you’ve made your selection, happy hunting! ASJ
Editor’s note: For more on this and other knife-related topics, see the author’s e-article “Knife Sharpening” (available on Amazon Kindle), and check out the YouTube videos on RonSpomerOutdoors.
I‘ve had my share of knives, and the selection has run the gamut. There have been a pair of versatile Victorinox Swiss Army knives I picked up while backpacking through Europe and some really nice Cold Steel models, as well as a few cheap imports that didn’t last a week. No offense to the cheaper knife makers, but my father always told me that you get what you pay for. Maybe not in those exact those words, but you know what I mean.
When I ﬁrst saw the advertisement for the ZT 0301, I didn’t know what to think. The knives appeared thicker and a bit odd shaped for a traditional, self-diagnosed machirologist (yes, there is a word for “knife collector”) as myself. But something spoke to me. So as a gift to myself for my 50th birthday (as I knew my wife wouldn’t get one for me), I ordered one. With a retail price of $340, I knew I was going out on a limb, having never held one in my hand. But my dealer assured me that he would take it back if I didn’t like it.
That will never happen now.
You can see that this hunk of steel is unique from a photograph, but what you can’t see is the extremely high-quality ﬁt and ﬁnish of this edged beast. The patented Speedsafe Ambidextrous assisted opening system thrusts (yeah, baby!) the heavy blade out and it locks with a satisfying click. And by “click,” I really mean a noise like when the door of a truck slams shut. You can feel the “thunk.”
The 3.75-inch Ken Onion-designed blade is made of S30V steel, and wears a tiger-striped tungsten DLC (diamond-like coating) that not only looks really cool, but also actually serves a purpose by enhancing blade hardness and reducing friction and drag.
The handle is also very unique. The “front” side is made of G-10, machined with a green scale pattern, while the black back, or lock, side is made from titanium and has the same scale pattern cut into it. I had always thought that a knife with rubber-type grips would have the best feel. I was wrong, but who’s counting? The knife as a package just feels right.
And here’s another great point: A portion of the titanium back acts as the blade lock, keeping your ﬁngers safe. I have never had this blade even budge a tiny bit while using it.
Ever. Period. End of story.
The knife also has Zero Tolerance’s Quad-mount system that allows four different ways to attach the pocket clip. Right handed, left handed, point up, point down – you name it. Oh. I just did.
Looking for a great knife? Of course you are. So visit the company web site and check out all the top quality models from Zero Tolerance.
Heck, if it’s the right time of year, you even can buy yourself a nice birthday present – just in case someone else won’t.
Editor’s note: For more information, visit zt.kaiusaltd.com.
♥ It’s not just a tool, it’s a close-combat weapon, and offers a curved handle that places the center of balance midway along its length. That makes this axe faster!
Overall Length 11.88 inches
Blade Length 4.89 inches
Blade material D2 Tool Steel, TiCN Coated
Blade thickness 0.30 inches
Handle material G10
Overall weight 24.7 ounces
♥ It comes with a fire-starter flint because yes, this is for those types. A rugged blade with a handle meant for gripping in the wettest and messiest of outdoor survival situations. Makes us want to go outside bearing it in our teeth and growl a lot.
Style Spear point
Overall Length 9.25 inches
Blade length 4.88 inches
Blade material 1095 RC 56-58
Blade thickness 0.160 inches
Blade width 1.25 inches
Handle material Green canvas micarta
Overall weight 6.2 ounces
Why we love this blade ♥ Designed by Joe Pardue. Clean, simple, ease of use. Not over the top. Only five moving parts on this Tactical-assisted opening mechanism
Style Drop point
Overall length 8 inches
Blade length 3.2 inches
Blade material AUS-8 steel
Blade thickness .12 inches
Blade width 1 inch
Handle material Zytel
Overall weight 4.5 ounces
Why we love this blade ♥ It’s all about the grip. The overmolded rubber give the perfect grip and spongy effect while still maintaining a hard solid frame. Just so we are clear, it’s the grip of the knife we are talking about here.
Style Spear point
Overall length 9 inches
Blade length 4.50 inches
Blade material 154CM
Blade thickness 0.16 inches
Handle material Polymer and overmolded rubber
Overall weight 4.77 ounces
Why we love this blade,…um, contraption
♥ It has a spring-assist opening, allowing the user to access and open it single handedly. That’s ridiculously brilliant!
One handed use
Twelve tools which include:
Blade steel type 420
Bolt grip channel
Medium flat screwdriver
Multi-angle needle nose pliers
Needle Nose Pliers
Why we love this blade ♥ With it’ simplistic design, this little knife is the perfect companion and at a great price, plus it looks super techy.
Overall length 5.75 inches
Blade length 2.25 inches
Blade material 3CR13 steel
Blade thickness 0.12 inches
Blade width Unknown
Handle material 3CR13 steel
Overall weight 2.3 ounces
Why we love this blade ♥ Sweet hidden little dagger for all those special moments
Style Double edge spear point
Overall length 5.47 inches
Blade length 2.50 inches
Blade material 440C steel
Blade thickness 0.125 inches
Blade width 1 inch
Handle material Vinyl coated tang
Overall weight 2.32ounces
Why we love this blade ♥ Built by special forces and ultimate outdoor Grizzly Adam’s types. This knife is totally for the tough guys and has a glass breaker, because that’s what you need.
Knife attacks from the front can be scary, many knife attacks are psychologically personal. Ryan Hoover of Fit-to-Fit Krav Maga goes over some simple principles and tactics to defend against a frontal knife attack.
Basically, Ryan’s example is with a swift slap to the aggressor knife hand and instantly running diagonally to his left at a 45 degree angle. Ryan also shows upon removing or getting off line of the knife, he delivers a quick kick to the groin and runs off.
Second Method – Control
The second method is based off of the first in regards to creating a better angle and redirect. But what if the opportunities and dynamics of it all isn’t the same as in the first scenario, but wind up having to fight with this knife attacker. And, the struggle is now to control the knife to minimize any injuries.
Two on One
Two on one is a term taken from Greco-Roman wrestling, where you have control over an arm with both of yours. The ideal positioning is to stand on the outside of the aggressor, so that it’s easier to defend from than standing in front of the aggressor. When you’re in front you have to deal with all four of his weapons (2 hands, 2 feet).
So basically, Ryan demonstrates this 2 on 1 control as being more dominant than trying to grab the knife with one hand manipulating them into a wrist/joint locks. Upon hands on Ryan delivers a headbutt as this is the most economical in terms of motion and directness. Headbutt can be delivered to the aggressor chin or shoulder(secondary target). The takedowns is by hanging on to the aggressor arm while maintaining the position and control, then lowering your center gravity by getting semi squatting will result in going to the ground. Once you see the aggressor is going down, you can release do a quick kick and run away.
Just a note to our readers, our videos are for entertainment and educational purposes only.
For more information on Ryan Hoover at Fit-to-Fight.com and Straight Blast Gym, Karl Tanswell Founder of STAB program
Gun or Knife – Who’s faster on the draw? This video highlights the quickness in the draw and execution to the target balloons. Timers were used to validate the quickness in drawing the weapon.
Knife Targets are only a few yards in front of the particapant.
Gun Targets were any where from a few yards away to 10 yards.
Certain drills started with facing the target and other times with their back facing the target. Facing with their backs require for them to pivot 180 degrees to target.
Thanks to Instructor Zero and Doug Marcaida for the demonstration.
Tueller drill principles has been taught to Cadettes and seasoned Officers/Agents throughout law enforcement nation wide, includes agencies such as the FBI and DEA. The objective is sound for teaching to a wide variety of skill level and to retain it quickly. You can view some of our past article on Tueller drill here.
But, what if the gun fighter was at an elite level in terms of competency and skills that’s off the chart like G.I. Joe. (no pun intended)The video below highlights two extremely skilled in respective arts. (knife, gun)
Doug Marcaida background is in the Filipino Martial Arts of Kali, utilizing the knife is considered the advance part of this training. Instructor Zero of Spartan 360 Tactical Defense is the Elite gun fighter, his skills as a fast shooter can be heard and seen from here to abroad.
So let’s get to the meat of this video. The instructors described the goal of this video as a learning tool to break the 21-foot rule and may only apply to one with higher skill sets. Enjoy!