A skinning knife is a specialized hunting knife that focusses on skinning the game only.
A skinning knife’s blade is often shorter, thin and has a fat curved belly to cut through tissue underneath the skin cleanly and precisely while not damaging or puncturing the hide during the skinning proces.
Check out my current top 5 skinning knives of 2020, in order to find the best skinning knife that matches your wishes, needs and budget.
HAVALON PIRANTA Z FOLDING BLADE
My absolute favorite budget pick is the Havalon Piranta series.
Unlike most skinning knives, Havalon introduces a new system where you can easily switch the knife’s blade.
This fantastic option also allows you to change the blade type completely within seconds to specialize the knife even further for a specific type of game.
But the most important part about this feature: maintenance.
Pop it out and put a new one in for less then 0.50$ within a minute! And the best thing is you get 12 free blades along with the knife!
The blade itself out of the box are one of the sharpest I have ever seen in my life and it takes no effort at all to replace them.
The size of the unfolded Piranta is 7 1/4″, and the blades itself vary but the standard is 2 3/4″.
I personally do not like the handle on the Havalon. Although the grip is quite decent in some area’s, it lacks grip at the top. Which is where I often put my thumb while doing delicate work. T
he handle material is made from ABS plastic, which is a very inexpensive material often also used for boxcutters.
It feels cheap, clunky and the ergonomic shape isn’t optimal for my hands as the handle itself is on the thin side.
The folding mechanism however works great, it locks when you slide it into the groves. And because of the option to remove the blade itself quickly, cleaning becomes a lot easier. There are however options to upgrade the handle.
This is my go to budget knife, it offers insane performance due the razor sharp blades and I would recommend this for everyone who hunts small sized game.
For med-big sized game I would recommend it’s big brother the Havalon Baracuta which has the exact same features as the Piranta, but a size bigger.
Its great to see such a good skinning knife with replaceable blades for such a low price as the Havalon Piranta.
It might not be the best skinning knife, but it sure is the best low budget skinning knife out there!
BUCK KNIVES 0103 SKINNER
When you ask someone “What is the best skinning knife?”
Then 90% would answer with: USA made Buck Knives.
Buck Knives offers a wide variety of hunting knives and is one of the most popular knife brands for hunters.
The Buck 103 skinner (also known as the Buck Knives 0103 Skinner) is currently one of the best skinning knives available on the market for an exceptionally low price compared to the quality that it offers.
The 4″ blade is made from 420C Stainless Steel, and has a total length of 8 1/4″.
The tip of the blade is very narrow, but the Buck 103 skinner has a good fat belly to cut right through thick and tough layers. It has a beautiful Cocobolo Dymondwood handle with a brass pommel and guard..
The downside of the Dymondwood handle is the loss of grip compared to other handle materials. And personally, function always tops form for me.
The narrow blade makes tight and narrow places easier to reach, and this comes in handy for smaller sized game while not losing any performance on skinning big game.
The 420HC blade itself doesn’t require a lot of maintenance and is pretty sharp considering its stainless steel.
Stainless steel also provides the resistance to rust which is a big pro when choosing a skinning knife.
The Buck 103 skinner comes with a very high quality genuine leather sheath which holds the knife perfectly firm while carrying it around. And Buck’s fantastic lifetime warranty.
All in all, this is truly one of the best skinning knives out there for the money and a fantastic choice for any hunter seeking a good skinning knife.
MOONHAUS DAMASCUS TRACKERS KNIFE
This USA handmade, Damascus steel monster is the top of the line in both quality and design.
100% Handmade out of 1000 layers Damascus steel with 18 folds of 1095 Carbon Steel and 15N20 Nickel, tempered to 58-60HRC strong! The knife has a total length of 9 3/4″ and a max width of 2 inch.
The 5″ long, 3/8″ thick Damascus steel blade is extremely sharp, and thanks to the thickness of the blade, extremely strong and solid.
The beautiful ergonomic Bocote wood handle is 4 7″8 in length and fits into my hand perfectly (med-large hands) it also has 3 O-Ring pins and a lanyard hole.
This allows you to attach the knife onto a pole to create a spear by using the O-Rings and some paracord.
The Bocote wood handle is known for being very tough, yet lightweight. And having excellent grip in wet or bloody conditions.
The top of the blade offers a great spot to place your thumb in order to do delicate work by guiding the tip with your thumb, or you can apply more pressure with your thumb to cut through though layers.
The Moorhaus Damascus Tracker’s knife comes with a beautiful high quality horizontal leather sheath.
This might be something you have to get used at the beginning, or you can simply buy a vertical sheath along with it.
The quality, the finishing, the craftsmanship, the price combined makes this one of the best skinning knives I’ve ever had. And it recently got a major price drop making it a complete steal.
A USA handmade high quality Damascus knife for under 100$? Thank you Moorhaus!
BENCHMADE KNIFE SADDLE MOUNTAIN SKINNER G10
Benchmade is another top USA hunting knife company that has been putting smiles on hunters faces for years.
Their extremely high quality blades are one amongst the top of the line and especially their new hunting line up which contains the Saddle Moutain Skinner G10.
This fantastic skinning knife is made out of CPM-S30V premium stainless steel (58-60HRC!) and has a total blade length of 4.17″, and a 0.14″ blade thickness.
The blade has a modified clip-point and the knife is pretty lightweight considering it’s size.
The premium stainless steel is very strong, and cuts through anything like butter.
Yes, unlike many Stainless steel blades, this on comes razor sharp right out of the box.
Stainless steel doesn’t suffer easily from rust thanks to the high resistance created by the steel mixture, making this knife a solid long term investment.
The handle on the G10 feels very nice and fits perfect in my hands (med-large hands), it has a good ergonomic grip and doesn’t slip in wet circumstances (you can also remove the handle scales by removing the screws on the handle!).
At first I was a little bit concerned about the handle, as it’s quite thick, which I normally tend to avoid in skinning knives because of the way I tend to hold them.
But this knife nails it, the handle thickness is right at the sweet spot, in both thickness and weight. The serrated top also comes in very handy while doing delicate precision work, where you can put your index finger on top to guide the blade’s tip.
The tip itself isn’t the strongest I’ve seen in hunting/skinning knives, but its still very good.
The Benchmade Saddle Moutain Skinner G10 comes with a vertical Kyndex sheath, which in terms of quality doesn’t match the knife unfortunately.
The sheath is “ok” while the knife is “fantastic”. This has been one of the deciding reasons why the Benchmade mountain skinner G10 isn’t the best skinning knife of 2021 as the number one is simply the better all round deal in both quality of the knife/ sheath and price.
However, the G10 is a fantastic very high quality USA made skinning knife that is an asset to any hunter looking for a fair priced premium stainless steel skinning knife.
It doesn’t rust or stain and it maintains a very good edge. Incase you prefer a smaller G10 blade, you can check out the Benchmade Hidden Canyon Skinner G10.
BUCK KNIVES 0537RWS OPEN SEASON
What else beside a Buck Knives’s knife could be the best skinning knife of 2021.
The new Buck Knives 0537 Open Season is a game changer in both quality, craftsmanship, and price. Its my absolute favorite skinning knife out on the market for a ridiculously low price.
The full tang 4 1/2″ very sharp Drop Point blade is made fromS30V Stainless Steel (Which is in my opinion the best skinning knife material) giving it a fantastic edge retention and a high resistance to rust.
One of my favorite things about the knife is the narrow tip combined with the wide curved belly which makes it A LOT easier to cut through thick and tough layers.
The down angled point also protect the hide from getting punctured easily by the knife.
The contoured Rosewood DymaLux handle is a piece of art. Its the best skinning knife handle I have ever held in my hands.
The grip, the ergonomic shape, the material its perfect. It feels very strong, and firm and it doesn’t suffer from any hotspots.
The top of the blade has extra grip in order to put your thumb (or index) onto it to guide the blade during precise work.
One thing that I have to mention about the handle is that my left handed friend doesn’t find it very comfortable.
The ergonomic shape is really created for a right handed person. Its a shame Buck Knives doesn’t offer a left handed version.
The Buck Knives 0537RWS Open Season comes with a high quality genuine leather sheath and a lifetime warranty by Buck Knives USA and has a shockingly low price of below $ dollars.
It offers equal quality to the Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner for a lower price, a far superior sheath, and in my opinion a better design (both functional and ecstatic).
The knife can be used for any size of game, and can even be used as an all round field knife.
This is absolutely, without a doubt the best skinning knife I have ever owned and I highly recommend this skinning knife for any hunter, any game, any time.
Incase you are wondering why there aren’t any Gut-hooks on the best skinning knife 2021 list, I left them out as the quality of the ones I had simply didn’t match quality of the ones without one and having a personal preference of having none. The only one I actually liked was the Buck Knives 0691BKG which is a great low-med budget skinning knife. So incase you really want a Gut-hook on your skinning knife check out that one!