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Choosing a hunting knife

Q. I’m going on a camping trip with my troop, but my hunting knife broke. I see a lot of different hunting knives advertised. How do I know which one to buy?

Knifeless Neil, Summerville, S.C.

A. The best type of knife for camping trips — and most any other outdoor activity, for that matter — is a short, fixed-blade knife with a beefy handle.

Folding pocketknives can fold up on your hand while cutting. Not fixed blades. And remember: When it comes to blades, bigger isn’t always better. Avoid blades longer than four inches. A small, sharp blade can cut just as well as a long one, but it’s safer to handle and easier to maneuver in tight spots. With a good fixed blade you’ll be set for most anything the outdoors can throw at you — whittling, cutting, notching, butchering, filleting, even speading peanut butter.

Here are two of my favorite fixed-blade knives:

  • Buck Diamondback Guide ($27;
    This knife has a 3 1/8-inch-long drop-point blade with a texturized rubber handle.
  • SOG Field Pup ($60;
    A four-inch stainless steel straight-edge blade with an easy-to-grip handle and nylon sheath.

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61 Comments on Choosing a hunting knife

  1. I got a ozark trail folding knife at walmart when i crossed over and got my arrow of light. I really like it. But i do want a fixed blade. My cosin makes them so im gonna ask him for a cusom one.

  2. just get a spyderco they won’t let u down

  3. I use the kabar zk acheron skeleton for a fixed blade but for a great folding knife get a spyderco knife

  4. Survivalist101 // August 1, 2014 at 8:47 pm // Reply

    I would recommend the Gerber Bear Grylls Paracord Fixed Blade Knife. Small, but strong that keeps it sharpness and comes with extra paracord.

  5. AdmiralPankake // May 5, 2012 at 8:25 am // Reply

    sheath knives are the best, but my troop doesn’t allow them, so i go for the closest thing, a lock blade folding knife!

    • Master Chief // November 29, 2013 at 4:41 pm // Reply

      you should get a Buck 119 Sheath Knife, or if you can’t have those get a Buck 110 Folder, and then I recommend making your own leather sheathe with the Leatherworking merit badge or something, because it looks cooler.

  6. Backwoods&Swamps // January 30, 2012 at 1:24 am // Reply

    i would have to say that both styles of blade have their place in the woods. However as a hunting knife I would stick to the fixed blade, because as stated by someone else already. They have less places for sand and dirt to hide and are just plain easier to clean up after skinning and dressing you game. As well as why ruin a good folder batoning wood to cook some of that game while you’re out on that camp and hunt. I say get a fixed blade and carry a locking folder as a back up. Really who doesn’t carry a back up into the woods with them? Be prepared!

  7. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // October 16, 2011 at 10:53 am // Reply

    I use the Gerber LMF II fixed blade. It has a half fine half serrated edge,a glass breaker/skull crusher on the end and a pull thru sharpener built it to the sheath. here in the Idaho mountains you don’t rely on a folding knife when you go hunting! It is my hunting,jogging,survival,camping and scouting knife! Forever ready with Gerber!

  8. In my experience, a bigger fixed blade, along the lines of cold steel trailmaster or Ontario rtak II, would almost always be better in a cold winter snowy environment, especially for firemaking and splitting wood, batoning, chopping, etc. Etc.

    Granted, a smaller blade does have ts place, tinder and kindeling, but I prefer larger blades.

  9. When I was in Scouts in the early 1960’s, we were allowed to have either type. Many boys had the scout version of a Swiss knife, with fork and spoon. But almost everyone had a fixed blade, some bought in Scout shops. I had both.

  10. i want those knives soooo bad

  11. Ranger Danger // June 6, 2010 at 5:54 pm // Reply

    you are right about how folding knifes closing on your hands….. my pointer finger would know… but if it happens again in the same spon i won’t feel it at all!!!

  12. cold steeler // April 6, 2010 at 4:11 pm // Reply

    i have 2 knives. my everyday knife is the kershaw od-1 knife. great price (40-50 bucks) and i never leave home without it (except at school) very lightweight and no bulk.

    my working, out doors, and camping knife is a cold steel finn wolf. another great price. blade is around 5 inches and the sheath is great. i got the od-1 at walmart and the finn wolf at a discount knife store.

  13. The longest knife that should be is 5 inches short enough to do the main jobs, but long enough to baton wood. It cracks me up to see wilderness noobs go into the forest with a 12 inch knife.

  14. My uncle used a KaBar in the Corps. OORAH Semper Fi!

  15. I have a sog sheath knife and it works wonders on big tree limbs. I once went on a survival treck with my friend out in the Alaskan wildrness for 5 days and 5 nights and all I brought along was my sheath knife and that was all I needed. I beleave that a good sheath knife is the best tool that you could have in any situation. Also I belive that a boy scout that can be trusted with such a tool should be alowed to have one. The BSA rules do not state that you may not have sheath knives. Most troops frown uppon sheath knives so they do not allow them. It realy dipends on he troop your in. My current troop did not allow gem for a few years but now hat we have a new scout master we are allowed to use these tools.

  16. anonymous scout // July 13, 2009 at 3:18 pm // Reply

    Personally, I would buy a folding lock-back knife from wal-mart or a store like that. I have a friend that has one and it has a fire pattern on the blade and it looks amazing. Also the lock back knives look cool anyway and are generally bigger than normal pocket knives. I have never had a knife with a scout logo on it, and I’m ok. I survived on an outpost (basically a leader at a camporee takes about 3 scouts up on a mountain and camps near them in a tent and cooks dinner.. The scouts build a shelter.) where all I brought with me was my lock-back knife , a first-aid kit (came in handy dealing with bug bites) 2 ropes, and some water and I made my own shelter and slept in it for the night while everyone else brought tents. Now that is a true survival story where my knife came in handy (for big sticks.).
    -Anonymous Outpost Survivor (I feel really good because that outpost story which I truly did made me feel like a true scout!).

  17. pro-fixed blade // June 21, 2009 at 2:36 pm // Reply

    oh and Killer Knome,
    i have a 7 inch Kabar, and it serves wonders in my troop and my daily activities

  18. unimportant // April 29, 2009 at 6:42 pm // Reply

    Killer Knome

    no, not at all
    the blade should not be bigger than the palm of your hand

  19. i would also like to pointout that the article was about HUNTING knives made for HUNTING.

  20. killer knome // March 24, 2009 at 3:55 pm // Reply

    Can i have a 7 inch sheath knife in boy scouts?

  21. Scout since 1967 // March 12, 2009 at 5:33 pm // Reply

    Knives are tools like a saw, hatchet, ax, of even a fork. Any of them can be misused.The scout motto is “Be Prepared”. How can a scout be prepared to use a tool if they are not taught? In an emergency situation, lost on a back country hike for example, a reasonable length fixed blade knife is a much better tool to have than a folding pocket knife. Just try and cut a sapling for a splint or shelter with a small pocket knife. We are teaching scouts to be young men. They should be treated as such with responsibilities to match.

  22. Angela (vintage stag knives) // February 15, 2009 at 5:22 pm // Reply

    I don’t think children should carry any kind of knife unless they are supervised, but the official boy scout knife is the five blade “Camillus”.

  23. i like fixed blades alot, but don’t think their practical for scouting. they work, but are’nt really nesscsary.(dont think i spelled that right.) if you want a fixed blade get a leatherman steens, or the sog seal pup like he said. they’re pricey but well worth it.

  24. sheath knives are very favorite knife(a sheath knife) is the gerber freeman hunter,that i got at academy.Sheath knives can do everything a folding knife can do pluss more.For instance on backpacking trips you can actualy make firewood with a good one (it is a lot lighter than an axe or hatchet)

  25. COmmon Sense... // January 26, 2009 at 12:26 pm // Reply

    hahahahahaha I love the fact that someone thinks that the Gear Guy doesn’t know the Knife Rules for BSA….

    BOy’s Life is a BSA Publication people. They would not publish anything against the G2SS!!

    Yes sheath knives are permitted.

  26. what is B. S .A knife rules for boy scout

  27. Common Sense // January 2, 2009 at 2:01 pm // Reply

    A knife, like any tool, can be a life saver or a life taker in the right or wrong hands. If a person has proved to be totally untrustworthy, he should not have a knife, period. A person can do just as much damage with a folding knife as with a fixed-blade knife. On the other hand, if a person has proved himself to be trustworthy, a fixed-blade knife can be a more effective tool in his hands than a folding knife can. The bottom line is: do not stereo-type people or knives, judge each situation with prudence and common sense.

  28. don’t get a fixed blade, get a good lock back blade that works well and has a lot of uses.

  29. I think fixed blades are the best knife ever

  30. about the fixed blades

    you can use them you just cant have the big 12 inch rambo knives

  31. I like the tip.

  32. If you using it for hunting you want fixed blade.I have a buck knife fixed blade and it works good.I had a folding one and it broke easy so if you want a good hunting knife

    get a fixed blade.

  33. folding knives are better

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // October 16, 2011 at 10:43 am // Reply

      nope fixed blades are more Heavy duty and they will not fold up on you hands because the locking mechanizum can fail sometimes.

  34. cool

  35. This “advice” from the gear guy is pretty bad. Although the knives he recommends are probably great blades, look in your Scout Handbook. “Boy Scouts of America does not encourage the use of sheath knives.” Maybe the gear guy hasn’t read up.

    • The BSA does not prohibit sheath knives. They discourage “large sheath knives” in the BSHB and G2SS, then suggest them in The Complete Wilderness Training Manual,” 2d. ed. rev. (DK Publishing, 2007) and BSA “The Survival Handbook,” The much more dangerous axe is, of course, approved universally by BSA.

  36. i was never allowed to take my fixed blade knife on scouting activities but i never use it even though it is so sharp i can shave with it. i think a small folding knife is the best.

  37. i like fixed blades but stick with a folding knife with a blade less than 4 inches long in some states 4 inch blades arent allowed.

  38. You know what, I used to be in boy scouts. The whole thing about fixed blades being frowned upon is one thing and one thing only, political. They think it looks bad for a bunch of 13 year olds running around with scary looking fixed blades. Fixed blade versus folding, they really have their own purpose but for most situations in camping a small fixed blade is the way to go. Much more multi purpose and stronger than folders.

    3-5″ anything more than that is overkill for most situations, I always thought the USAF pilots knife was a decent knife for the money

  39. boy scouts rule!!! // September 17, 2008 at 9:02 pm // Reply

    You can go to Walmart, or Dicks or even Cabelas. Walmart will sell them for the most cheap and they are of good quility. Dicks will have more knives but they coast much more.

  40. much older scout // September 17, 2008 at 7:59 pm // Reply

    i think that the fixed blade is only really effective if you know how to use one the way it is intended, skinning animals and other extremes of nature survival. most boys entering boy scouts will be too inexperienced to handle a fixed blade. i say stick with a cheaper folding knife with a serrated edge at the base of the blade. if you really want to impress your scout buddies buy a nicer knife that is a wacky color. i have a blaze orange knife from Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) and everyone wants to see it. for 30 bucks i got a serrated edge, double safety system, iron grip clip, and overall a sweet knife. oh yeah, to clean the grit out of the pivot all you have to do is loosen the bolt a little and swish it around in some water, dry it off, and put a thin layer of oil over the entire knife, tighten the bolt, and you have a brand new knife. i like Rem oil but don’t use it on a blade with a black finish because it eats the finish off. Hope it helps.

    • Serrations at the base of the blade interfere with wood work in the area of the blade that gives the greatest control. Great for cutting rope, however.

  41. Just stick you knife in your pack if they dont let you use it better to ask for forgivness then permission

  42. There shouldn’t be any job a scout needs to do on a weekend or week long camping trip that can’t be done with the official Boy Scout folding knife, like the Camillus Knives: Boy Scout Knife. If you’ve had a blade close on your fingers that means you were using the knife incorrectly. A fixed blade knife as described by the gear guy is great if your name is Bear Grills, or Jeremiah Johnson and you plan on disappearing into the wilderness. I’m not saying the gear guy is wrong about fixed blade knives. I’m saying that Boy Scouts don’t need them.

    • BSA has sold fixed-blade knives for over 70 years. Since 1989, they are strictly “kitchen” or wood-working knives. They are routinely used at BSA camps for cleaning fish as a folder is hard to clean. A lock-blade folder is safer than a slip-joint, and, when locked, is as dangerous as a fixed-blade knife.

  43. The guide to safe scouting does not prohibit fixed blade knives but it does not encourage them. Scout camps may set more restrictive rules.

  44. i think that they are good but do i order them or buy themm at a store

  45. i went to lewis n clark summer camp and you cant hve them there

  46. you bring up a good question i thought you cant have fixed blades but this gear guy question says you can?!?!?!?

  47. I do belive that fixed blades are not allowed on scout outings

  48. i was wondering if you can cary fixed blade knifes in the boyscouts. i made a knife at a camp and someone told me i could not cary it. i beleve that fixed blade kifes are better then jack knifes like you said thay dont fold up on your hand and thay are easy to clean and you know whare the blade is when you cant see it.

    i dont like folding knifes because thay get grit and sand in the pivot and the lock on lock backs and i have a fue good scars because of folding knives with bad locks or none at all

    i would just like to know what the rules are on what knifes you can cary and what you cant.

    thank you

  49. these are great and all but where can i buy them

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