Contributors to this thread:
Need a new elk knife...
I have a couple gerber knives as well as a Helle that I carry. Sharpened them all on a wet stone before leaving home. I killed my elk and my first cut was from the skull base to the tail. For the life of me, I could barely get that first cut made. I tried all three knives.
I have used a havalon and they work good for that cut but I hate that the blades break so easily. My havalon itself eventual broke into 4 different pieces.
My knives worked great for everything else except the hide along the spine.
Havalon...its all i use any more;)
I guess it's all a matter of how much you want to spend? A cold steel master Hunter is a heck of a knife and stay sharp through multiple animals.
No doubt there are some great knIves out there but technique can often help also. By chance were you cutting from the outside in or inside out? I know sounds crazy but hair will wipe out the best edge in a second. When cuting hide if you can minimize the amount of hair the edge cuts it will extend the life of the edge. Once initial cut is made get the blade under the hide and cut inside out as much as possible. If already doing this maybe it is time for a different brand knife?
Check out the history\reviews on a Busse swamp rat or any model for that matter. Unfortunately for a Busse there is typically a wait!
A Bob Dozier in D2.... Gene Ingram.... Charles May...look no further
Jfish, I started at the base of his skull, dug in with the point of the knife pointed towards his tail with blade pointing upwards. Once under the hide, I tried to cut upwards from the underside of the hide.
I received an ultralight Kestrel knife as a gift. It's a titanium knife with some tungsten in the blade. I was not happy with the edge retention while breaking down animals.
I use a Havalon and like it, but like to have a fixed blade as well. I actually like using a small lightweight filet knife because of it's longer cutting surface... and rumor has it that I may have an Essee knife in my future. (Christmas or Father's Day depending on my behavior)
I'd recommend looking at a Havalon, but suggest you talk to a few guys before going with a titanium Kestrel.
I have several of these. Cheap Sharp and easy to sharpen in the field. If I loose one no big deal. Work great for everything but the ball joints. Fold up nice for putting in a kill kit. http://www.ebay.com/itm/RAPALA-Comfort-Grip-FOLD-N-FILLET-Straight-Folding-Fish-Fillet-Knife-BP405F-/372018278555?epid=2254986278&hash=item569e04709b:g:OuwAAOSwgeRZnbeg
Paul X2 -- I like a real knife, not a Havalon fan at all, too brittle for my not so soft touch! (grin) I use two knives, one for cutting hair around legs, splitting hide to prep skinning & ringing neck to remove antlers. 2nd knife for actual skinning & removal of quarters etc that doesn't touch hair! The 3rd knife Paul shows would be my Skinner & quarter removal, nice knife there!
Just my two cents but your original wet stone edge may have been your problem. Maybe trying a different sharpening method like lansky may help
Cutco with Double d edge knives have impressed me Hard to beat a Mora for the price...sportsmans for $14 and have great steel CRKT makes some good ones too for not a lot of $ Havalon now makes a folding knife with a fixed blade and the replaceable blades all in one
I had four knives with me when I took my first elk, I used all of them . . . After that I switched to a folding utility knife that allowed me to change blades; I could carry a bunch of blades without the weight of the other knives. I used this on whitetails for years, but never used it on an elk. I have since switched to the Outdoor Edge Razor Light knife. It has an exchange a blade system, but the blades are much more stiff. So far I really like this knife . . . https://www.outdooredge.com/collections/hunting/products/razor-lite-rl-10
Good luck on your quest . . . Michael
Cutco for me. I've had this knife since 199?Lost count how many elk it's opened up.
Wiebe knives. Going to try the fixed blade in November, hopefully...
Edit: Boss Dog fixed.
I used Havalons on a couple trips. After snapping several blades and coming dangerously close to stabbing myself I switched over to Outdoor Edge replacement blade knives. They can handle a lot more abuse without blades breaking and it's nice swapping out blades. I used 1 blade a couple weeks ago to skin a life-sized sheep plus bone it out and it worked great! I've also used it on skinning turkey capes that have ultra-thin skin. I had problems with Havalons putting holes in capes while skinning and haven't had that problem with Outdoor Edge.
Another knife I've used on quite a few critters is an assortment of Victorinox. They are only around $7 to 10.00 each. They are super sharp and easy to sharpen with a few strokes of a diamond sharpener. They don't hold an edge for too terribly long. Next the Outdoor Edge knives the Victorinox would be my 2nd choice.
I don't like carrying around large, hefty knives and both knives mentioned are super light. I almost always use the boneless method for meat. Even though the knives I use are small they work fine for boning and caping elk sized game.
Lots of good tips here, thank you all! JakeBrake, I think you might be right. I might try something simple for a sharpener, like you mentioned.
I'd recommend what I have and love, a Blackjack Trail Guide, but they stopped making them long ago. If I were going to buy another knife for hunting no doubt what so ever in my mind I would buy a Bark River Bravo-1 in A-2 carbon steel. Yes costly at about +/- $180 but it's a superb knife by all accounts. I have used a 15+ YR/old Carbon V Cold Steel MH to skin, debone and butcher elk and deer, and it worked pretty well. I was quite surprised how well my 420HC buck Vanguard and Mini Vanguard has worked on skinning and butchering deer. I can get my Buck knives made from 420HC hair popping sharp but still my Blackjack Trail Guide is so sharp the hair just seams to fall off my arm with no effort at all.
Mossyhorn your Gerbers should be fine, I suspect your edge.
I finally gave up on whetstone, I just wasn't consistent enough. I bought a wicked edge system and have been quite pleased with the results.
cutco is a real nice knife, I have a mora that has done my last 6 elk, 4 moose, hopefully a 5th, leaving today, 6 whitetails and 6 black bears, its a $25 knife and its orange which is a must! Love this knife, easy to sharpen and easy to find!!!
https://morakniv.se/en/product/companion-mg-stainless-steel/ mine is orange?
Get yourself a worksharp sharpening system. Used to take me 30 minutes to sharpen a knife and it wasn't that great even then. Now takes me about 6-8 minutes and does a better job. My brother who used to pay someone to sharpen his knives can now even sharpen a knife. Go slow at first until you get the hang of it. You can take off too much metal too quickly if you are not careful. I can also sharpen all my wife's kitchen knives quickly as well as well as my hatchet. Also, no matter how you sharpen your knife, you need to use a steel after finishing off the grinding off of metal. The steel straightens out little imperfections and adds to the sharpness
No offence intended, BUT!!!! If you have a Helle that won't go through an elk like going through hot butter, maybe you need to learn how to sharpen it right. There are some good videos on YouTube about how to sharpen a Scandi grind knife.
Cutco, sharpen it at home, good for 3-4 animals.
I don’t care how sharp the knife is, the hide behind the head is hard to get through!!!
In my opinion you don’t have to be “gentle” with a havalon, just don’t torque it. I’m averaging about 2-3 blades per animal and mostly changing out to a sharp blade. I’ve snapped a couple, usually when they start to dull.
WW, no offense taken. I've watched vids, read how to sharpen Helle knives on their website and It is an endeavor to get the thing sharp.
Diamondblade from Alaska. Very expensive but you may never have to sharpen it. If so, send it to them and they will sharpen it for you.
Havalon works well for me. If snapping the blades is a problem they do have blades thicker than the original. For a fixed blade I do like a Buck Alpha Hunter with SV30 steel.
If you have an Accu-sharp or a Rada sharpener in your pack any ol' knife you like the feel of will do! A couple swipes between quarters keep my knives aggressively slicing the way I like without carrying a bunch of extra crap or spending a bunch of money.
I really like the outdoor edge Razor Blaze and Swing Blaze in my kit. The replaceable razor sharp blades are more of an actuale blade not a razor so they do not break.
The longer gut hook opens them up which I use a lot to cape animals out.
I've been using a Buck Folding Hunter for maybe 40 years on lots of animals. Always bone my elk out and it works perfectly. Added a Buck skinner about 5 years ago and that was a handy addition. Used my grandson's Havalon this Fall on some work and they are certainly sharp and slick to use. But in the field I prefer a stouter, larger knife to grip under those conditions. Lots of good knives, just use what you like. As long as it's sharp. I switched to a Worksharp belt sharpener a few years ago. Also excellent.
razor blaze for me. one blade per side of the elk.
I carry the outdoor edge razor lite edc as my every day pocket knife, its everything i need for any elk from dressing quartering boning and butchering. I do also carry a nice hand made demascus just in case while hunting.
I used an Esse Izula this year and was very impressed. Processed two cow elk without sharpening. Light, sturdy and easy to sharpen.
Cabelas alaskan buck knives, no need to look further. S30v steel w/ a teflon coating, pick your style. Probably the best price for a quality knife and buck's cryo (bos) treatment is second to none.
Has anyone tried the Havalon Titan? Could be the best of both worlds if the main blade is decent. I've been thinking as I've used just about every knife mentioned here save the Dozier...I'll add the Knives of Alaska are decent performers as well.
What is the blade material of the regular havalon blade, I've seen no advertisement of the material which makes me think its probably 420 or 440 (neither of which are impressive)? I think Knives of Alaska are made of D2 steel.
I watched a couple videos specifically on sharpening Swedish grind knives. I then went to sharpen my Helle. I think I may have put a different angle on the blade. I was not educated in the specific sharpening needs of those knives. So it appears I now have a steeper angle on the knife. Maybe that's why I can't get it sharp?
SILVER STAG KNIVES!!!!!! Look them up.
Some info about sharpening angles - I sharpen my Cutco at 19 degrees with my Gatco
Under 10 Degree Angles The lowest angles are reserved for edges that are typically cutting softer materials. In this case, the edges are not subject to abuse so the lower angle can be maintained without damage or edge failure. The lowest angles that we typically see are on straight edge razors. These are sharpened to an angle which is roughly 7 to 8 degrees (although the back of the blade is used as a guide so knowing the angle isn’t important and it is not adjustable). A straight razor has a very delicate edge that is very easy to damage. In proper usage, a straight razor would never see the type of use that would damage the edge.
10 to 17 Degrees Angles A sharpening angle of 10 to 17 degrees is still quite low for most knives. With a total angle of 20 to 34 degrees, this is still a very fine edge. This edge is typically too weak for any knife that might be used in any type of chopping motion. Also consider that harder steels are also more susceptible to impact damage because they are more brittle. If your knife is used for cutting soft items or slicing meats, this lower angle can hold up and provide a very smooth cutting action.
17 to 22 Degree Angles A 17 to 20 degree angle covers most kitchen knives. Some knives (typically Japanese manufacturers) will sharpen their knives to roughly 17 degrees. Most western knives are roughly 20 degrees. It is our experience that kitchen knives sharpened to 15 to 20 degrees cut very well and are still durable. These angles are still not highly durable as a total angle under 40 degrees will not respond well to rougher treatment in harder materials.
22 to 30 Degree Angles In this range, the knife edges are considerably more durable. A pocket knife or a hunting knife will inevitably see abuse not seen by knives meant primarily for slicing or chopping softer materials. While the edge may not ultimately cut as well (but you may not notice a difference) it will be considerably more durable.
Over 30 Degrees Angles Any edged tool or knife that is sharpened past 30 degrees will be very durable. Its cutting ability will be noticeably reduced. This durability has an advantage because more force can be used to make the cut. While the majority of knives won’t benefit from this sharpening angle, an edged tool like a machete, cleaver or axe must be durable as the typical cutting action of these tools would damage other edges.
Benchmade folder with the ultra lite handles.
I agree it sounds like a sharpening issue. My cow bison was butchered in the field with one knife, a custom made Scott Barry with damascus blade and it did an awesome job, didn't have to resharpen during the field work. Get a good edge then touch it up in the field before it gets to the point, no pun intended, that it won't cut.Carry a folding diamond sharpening stick for field touch ups. Mostly, sounds like a great excuse to buy a nice new knife. Maybe find a local bladesmith.
Bunch of knives on campfire.com today
Thx txhunter58 damn spellcheck
same one as cnelk. Also a real pretty ivory handled cutco with genesis 1:26 engraved. Havalon and or Outdoor edge if im going ultralight.