Sitka Mountain Gear
The Perfect Knife
Equipment
Contributors to this thread:
Buskill 08-Oct-19
Nick Muche 08-Oct-19
Glunt@work 08-Oct-19
Joey Ward 08-Oct-19
Buskill 08-Oct-19
DanaC 08-Oct-19
DanaC 08-Oct-19
Grey Ghost 08-Oct-19
Elite 1 08-Oct-19
Buskill 08-Oct-19
Grey Ghost 08-Oct-19
Franklin 08-Oct-19
Bake 08-Oct-19
JohnMC 08-Oct-19
Bowfreak 08-Oct-19
stagetek 08-Oct-19
planebow 08-Oct-19
Boreal 08-Oct-19
ohiohunter 08-Oct-19
PECO 08-Oct-19
LBshooter 08-Oct-19
Bowmania 08-Oct-19
Willieboat 08-Oct-19
Well-Strung 08-Oct-19
Well-Strung 08-Oct-19
Well-Strung 08-Oct-19
Heat 08-Oct-19
Ermine 09-Oct-19
t-roy 09-Oct-19
WapitiBob 09-Oct-19
bowhunter24 09-Oct-19
DanaC 09-Oct-19
mgmicky 09-Oct-19
altitude sick 09-Oct-19
Genesis 09-Oct-19
Buskill 09-Oct-19
COHOYTHUNTER 09-Oct-19
Starfire 09-Oct-19
elkster 09-Oct-19
Predeter 09-Oct-19
Jaquomo 09-Oct-19
Fuzz 09-Oct-19
12yards 09-Oct-19
Fuzzy 09-Oct-19
Spider2 09-Oct-19
ROUGHCOUNTRY 09-Oct-19
Bou'bound 09-Oct-19
DanaC 09-Oct-19
No Mercy 09-Oct-19
Scar Finga 09-Oct-19
AZ~Rich 09-Oct-19
Grey Ghost 09-Oct-19
Scar Finga 09-Oct-19
AZ~Rich 09-Oct-19
BigOk 09-Oct-19
hawkeye in PA 09-Oct-19
Joey Ward 09-Oct-19
Franklin 09-Oct-19
Whocares 09-Oct-19
cnelk 09-Oct-19
sdkhunter 10-Oct-19
Moben 10-Oct-19
Ucsdryder 10-Oct-19
PECO 10-Oct-19
WapitiBob 10-Oct-19
IdyllwildArcher 10-Oct-19
WapitiBob 10-Oct-19
CJE 10-Oct-19
Grubby 10-Oct-19
moosenelson 12-Oct-19
moosenelson 12-Oct-19
Orion 12-Oct-19
Dino 12-Oct-19
JakeBrake 12-Oct-19
From: Buskill
08-Oct-19
Anyone else out there always on the look out for the “perfect knife”? I’m never fully satisfied. I want one that’s good for dressing game, good as a last ditch defensive weapon and of course one that I can get sharp. It always seems like the blade is too long, too short, too.....whatever. Anyone found the be all end all in cutlery ? Suggestions?

From: Nick Muche
08-Oct-19
From beaver to moose, a Havalon is all I carry anymore. It's done everything I've ever needed and is sharper than hell.

From: Glunt@work
08-Oct-19
My custom Wayne Depperschmidt does it for me. Size, balance, steel quality, and stunning craftsmanship.

Actually have several, they are a little addicting.

From: Joey Ward
08-Oct-19
Buck Selkirk 863 (large) is good 'un. Comes with a functional and adjustable sheath. Oh, and comes with a ferro rod/whistle, too.

From: Buskill
08-Oct-19
Havalon is nice for dressing game, not so great for anything else. I’ve got one and I carry it along with my regular knife but it would be great to consolidate down to one do-all instrument if possible.

From: DanaC
08-Oct-19
Look at the Buck 105

From: DanaC
08-Oct-19
Or the 118, similar

https://www.bestadvisor.com/hunting-knives/buck-knives-118-personal-vs-buck-knives-105-pathfinder

From: Grey Ghost
08-Oct-19
If I had to pick just one knife, it would be my Randall Model #3 with a O1 carbon steel blade and a stag handle.

Matt

From: Elite 1
08-Oct-19
Havalon for me too Great customer service just received a new one in the mail this week all I had to do was take a picture of the broken rivet in front blade email it and Wala sent me a new one. Great customer service.

From: Buskill
08-Oct-19
I like the look of those Bucks you guys have mentioned. Could not find much about Wayne D. custom knives other than folks saying they are nice.

From: Grey Ghost
08-Oct-19
A knife is only as good as the steel used. Bucks use 420HC stainless steel, which is basically a mid-grade stainless steel. Yes, they sharpen easily, but they also dull just as easily.

If you want a knife with great wear resistance and edge retention look for one that is made from a tool steel. Crucible's CPM series of tool steels is considered the cream of the crop. D2 and O1are other popular tool steels. These knives will be harder to sharpen, but they will out-perform most mass-produced knives with lesser quality steels.

Good luck,

Matt

From: Franklin
08-Oct-19
The Havalon is a glorified fancy scalpel….it`s not a knife.

The beauty of a knife is that there is no single knife for every job, that allows us to buy as many as we can find lol.

From: Bake
08-Oct-19
I don't go into the woods without my Bark River Classic Drop Point knife. I really like it. I bought a backup. And I'm thinking about getting another backup or two.

From: JohnMC
08-Oct-19
I don't think you can find the perfect knife. That is the reason I always carry two in my pack. One is always a havalon. Then I want something with more backbone.

With that said I had a buddy that was with me when I killed my sheep this year, We completely broke him down with two havalons. He made me a believer. Removed all 4 quarters including the hind quarters at the joint. Then cut through the spine at base of neck. No blades broke.

From: Bowfreak
08-Oct-19
I know many people love great knives and I can appreciate that, but for deer I will use anything that stays sharp long enough to remove guts. I prefer the Outdoor Edge if I am hunting out west.

From: stagetek
08-Oct-19
I've used my fixed blade Buck for many years. I still carry it in my pack, but I use the Havalon my daughter gave me for Christmas.

From: planebow
08-Oct-19
I like my fixed blade BUCK 194 Alpha Hunter. Did get a Gerber Vidal this year but still prefer my Buck.

From: Boreal
08-Oct-19
"Yes, they sharpen easily, but they also dull just as easily."

I've found Buck steel to be the opposite. More work to get really sharp but hold an edge longer than most.

From: ohiohunter
08-Oct-19
Buck fans, pick up a cabelas buck alaskan guide series. Then you'll have your favorite brand along with some upgrades.. s30v steel, bos treatment, teflon coating. The alaskan series wood handled vanguard is a sexy beast along w/ the filet knife.

From: PECO
08-Oct-19
All B.S. aside and I was to have only one hunting knife, it just might be a Buck 110 folder.

From: LBshooter
08-Oct-19

LBshooter's embedded Photo
LBshooter's embedded Photo
Well if I had to pick just one knife for every task , I think it would be my cold steel master hunter. Gutting, skinning, and defense it's a good solid and the carbon blade is way to get deadly sharp.

From: Bowmania
08-Oct-19
The answer is pretty plain and simple - a Randall knife. Only knife that has a song written about it.

Bowmania

From: Willieboat
08-Oct-19
Big Havalon fan here !

From: Well-Strung
08-Oct-19

Well-Strung's embedded Photo
Well-Strung's embedded Photo

Well-Strung's Link
As an OCD bladesmith and avid hunter\elk hunter, I have spent A LOT of money (tools) and time to investigate this. Each knife does have it's purpose, each designed for a task. But as an elk bowhunter who lives in Colorado and spends a lot of time in the field, I need a go-to knife that can do it all. One of my tests was to clean an entire elk without sharpening, and I've met that goal. I've spent years testing and reworking my processes and designs.

First off is design... you have blade length which seems to fit best in the 3"-4.25" range - anything larger can get tiring on large game. A handle for most men is 3.75" - 4.5". Drop point is my preferred blade shape. The grind is important as well. You have many, but hollow, full flat and high flats are the usual suspects. I prefer flat grinds and have gotten away from hollow grinds on hunting knives. Then you have thickness of the spine for camping related tasks, but it has to have the correct edge geometry for skinning, quartering, and seeing some bones while removing joints and head. I like a 22-23 degree edge for my hunting knives and I prefer a distal taper or swedge to pierce hides. Jimping on the spine helps traction with bloody hands.

Steel also plays a massive role but much more is how that steel is heat treated. High carbon needs to be normalized and go through at least 3 grain reduction cycles prior to quench and temper. I've found 59-61 rockwell hardness is a great go-to for many steels. My favorite steels have been 52100, 80crv2 and W2. Stainless steel benefits from being rust-resistant, but do not hold an edge at all what a good HC knife will.

Handles - a full tang is the most fail-proof but a good hidden tang can be nearly as strong. Handle material is fairly more straight-forward. Micartas are the most durable and resistant materials. Of course, hard woods have been used for many years and now benefit from stabilizing. I use G10 liners which are highly stable to reinforce all of my handle materials. Resins are less durable to hard knocks but add a lot of customization. Handles should be pinned 2-3 times for durability. I use a waterproof 50 ton flexible epoxy, and I make channels in the handles and tang for the epoxy to adhere and balance the knives.

A perfect knife depends on your exact applications. But for me I have narrowed down my products to perform every task I do in the field. I've tested them on many elk, deer, antelope, hogs and even on African game.

Brewstro Forge is my shop here are some of my knives.

From: Well-Strung
08-Oct-19

Well-Strung's embedded Photo
Well-Strung's embedded Photo
Then we can start talking about hamons...

Hamons are the visual appearance of a differential heat treat. This is very commonly known in "samurai swords". The hamon is the outline of the hardened zone (yakiba) which contains the cutting edge (ha). Blades made in this manner are known as differentially hardened, with a harder cutting edge than spine (mune). This difference in hardness results from clay being applied on the blade prior to the cooling process (quenching). Less or no clay allows the edge to cool faster, making it harder but more brittle, while more clay allows the center (hira) and spine to cool slower, thus retaining its resilience/toughness. This is not only in appearance but changes the steel throughout at a molecular level.

I regularly test my knives to be able to be bent at a 90 degree angle without cracking. A filet knife you would expect this behavior but is a goal of master bladesmiths for fixed blades. The hamon helps with this resilience and also visibly shows a perfect heat treat.

From: Well-Strung
08-Oct-19

Well-Strung's embedded Photo
Well-Strung's embedded Photo
The overall shape of your handle matters a lot as well. Finger grooves front quillons are nice for stability in a knife while working. Flairs at the rear of the handle and palm swells also lock it into your hand. Narrow pinch grip fronts allow for a variety of grabs/holds.

I think we will see the trend continue towards havalons. We now live in a throw away society. Havalons are a good example of that, we could have a knife that lasts multiple lifetimes created by a local artisan and can be handed down... or we can buy something from China and just use it and throw away the blades and get another every few years.

From: Heat
08-Oct-19
No such thing as a perfect knife but there are a lot of good ones. I like my Cold Steel Pendleton Hunter and my Cabela's Alaskan Guide Buck 113 best for field dressing/gutless. For a pocket knife I really like my Benchmade Mini Griptilian with sheepsfoot blade.

From: Ermine
09-Oct-19
Iron will K1 knife is pretty awesome. Weighs an ounce and it will hold and edge and it tough

From: t-roy
09-Oct-19
Havalon fan here as well, however, my fixed blade Buck Model 105, that I bought back in the early ‘70s with some of my trapping money, goes with me on every trip.

From: WapitiBob
09-Oct-19
Havalon fan; did everything from the minute my Elk hit the ground till it was in coolers.

From: bowhunter24
09-Oct-19
Robert those are some beautiful knives, I always seem to need just one more! I appreciate the education as well. I am hard turning some 54 Rc S7 as I write this. Your craftsmanship is appreciated!

From: DanaC
09-Oct-19
I suspect that a lot of people can't sharpen a knife well so they keep buying 'better' knives, which in turn they fail to maintain the edge on. There's guys out there still gutting and skinning with old Marble and Western and folding Buck knives which they know how to get and keep sharp. There are a lot of good sharpening videos on youtube, dig out your old knife and have a go.

From: mgmicky
09-Oct-19
Beautiful knives Well-Strung

09-Oct-19
Works of art.

From: Genesis
09-Oct-19
For skinning I just prefer more mass behind my edge.It seems my S110V just does the work easier than a couple of fresh havalon blades

From: Buskill
09-Oct-19
Great responses , I appreciate the input.

From: COHOYTHUNTER
09-Oct-19
After using several over the years, I've settled on the Tyto, which uses same blades as havalon, but is not a folder which makes it much easier to clean. But I also carry a fixed blade ESEE Izula II. I still like having the insurance of a fixed blade just in case

From: Starfire
09-Oct-19
I have tried many knives over the years and always go back to my Russell Canadian belt knife for field dressing deer. I've never owned one but the Mora with the orange handle seems to check all the boxes. Right size, good steel, easy to grip and find in the dark. For elk hunting I like my Buck 119 Special. I like a bigger knife for quartering a large animal and is a better survival knife If I have to spend a night in the woods. I rubber dipped the handle for non-slip/no-reflect.

From: elkster
09-Oct-19
Franklin X 2 Nice looking work WellStrung I use a custom 3 inch drop point by John Parks. Differentially heat treated. 5160 steel. But one knife can't do everything equally well. A caper is not a survival knife and vise versa.

From: Predeter
09-Oct-19
I think the Knifes of Alaska Cub Bear is pretty close to perfect for an all around hunting knife. That being said I picked up the Iron Will this year and through 2 mule deer I'm really liking it.

From: Jaquomo
09-Oct-19
I own about theee dozen knives, including several high-end customs. My girlfriend asked me this year, "You have so many knives. So why are we doing this whole bull elk with that little scalpel (Havalon)?"

From: Fuzz
09-Oct-19
Thanks for the lesson Well-strung! Great looking knives!

From: 12yards
09-Oct-19
I like a lock back knife. Just takes up less space. For deer hunting, the gutting job, I prefer a smaller knife, no more than 3" of blade. I have a Gerber that I use and can put a great edge on. Once I start skinning and butchering, I use bigger blades. But those are processing knives, not hunting knives. For bigger game I suppose I'd want a longer lock back.

From: Fuzzy
09-Oct-19
there's no one knife that excels at every task but my 30 year old Buck Pathfinder has come real close

From: Spider2
09-Oct-19
I use silverstag knives when hunting. Since they first came out. Or I use a tried and true buck 110.

From: ROUGHCOUNTRY
09-Oct-19
I love the disposable blade knifes like havalon and outdoor edge. It will amaze you on the time you save having a razor sharp knife especially on thick-hided game like elk, moose etc. However, I still like a small, heavy bladed knife for twisting around antler pedicals, detaching skull etc......The thin, disposable blades DO NOT stand up to torque and twisting. Filet knives also work great to have in your pack to detach deep muscle groups and backstraps. The disposable knives work fine but if you bury them in meat and blood, they can get "gunked up."

No perfect knife for me I guess.

From: Bou'bound
09-Oct-19
Havalon titan. Best if both blades. Jim Shockley edition.

From: DanaC
09-Oct-19
" For elk hunting I like my Buck 119 Special. .. I rubber dipped the handle for non-slip/no-reflect. "

What exactly did you use for this? Buck used to make a rubber-handle version of the 119, 619 was the designation. (Also made the 602 and 605 rubber-handled versions of the 102 and 105.) They're collectors items today. Buddy of mine had a 605, would love to find one.

From: No Mercy
09-Oct-19

No Mercy's Link
I have-it's made by Northern Knives in Alaska. M.A.K.-Multiple Animal Knife.

From: Scar Finga
09-Oct-19
Pine Ridge Custom Knives, I have several and he can make whatever you want. I even have one with mammoth ivory handles!

I really like his knives and the cross draw holster/ scabbard! Very reasonable pricing!

From: AZ~Rich
09-Oct-19
Cool thread. I used to carry #10 scalpel with extra blades in my pack for precise caping chores. Havalon is better substitute as you can use it for general skinning as well. However, I always carry at least two knives one of which is always my original Buck folding hunter 110. I’ve been relying on that old knife since 1966 and it has done the job on countless game. I have others including another Buck folding #112; and have never had a problem putting a shaving edge on those Bucks. ...(usually get through most jobs without any retouching). I watched a real old timer cowboy field dress an elk quickly and completely with a simple old style pocket knife, which he would quickly resharpen every so often with a small rectangular stone on a keychain. If you know what your doing any sharp knife can be used but we all have our favorites. For the money a Buck knife is one very good choice that does keep an edge a little better IMO. With so many years of use my old folder is almost like an extension of me, so I doubt I’ll ever leave it at home.

From: Grey Ghost
09-Oct-19

Grey Ghost's embedded Photo
Grey Ghost's embedded Photo
I thought you Buck fans may get a kick out this pic. It was my Father’s Pathfinder that he hunted with for 40 years. Do you think my old man liked to sharpen knives? LOL!

Matt

From: Scar Finga
09-Oct-19
Matt,

That is a very cool knife! I am sure your dad used it all the time, but kept it very sharp!

I have a very old knife that my dad had, it's a Buck , and is a very small pocket knife that he kept very sharp! it is very worn down and is one of my prized processions!!

From: AZ~Rich
09-Oct-19
That brings back one memory I wanted to forget! Had the exact same knife as your Dad’s. It was brand new and unfortunately I left it on top of a mountain while Coues hunting. Stopped for lunch/nap and must have emptied my pack out and somehow neglected to collect it before hiking down. It was so remote I’m sure it’s still laying up there somewhere.??

From: BigOk
09-Oct-19
Grey Ghost, that is awesome. I carry a 6 " fixed blade Old Timer that my grandfather bought me, the year I started deer hunting in the early 90's. The knife had set in a closed down Otasco store for years until the auctioned of the contents of the store. I may not use it but it goes on every hunt with me.

09-Oct-19
Beautiful knives Mr Brewster. I have two favorites a Randall that was a retirement gift and my grandfather's 1928 Marbles, mail ordered for 4 cereal box tops. Ah the good old days. I take great pride in owning and sharpening a quality tool....no throw aways here.

From: Joey Ward
09-Oct-19

Joey Ward's embedded Photo
Joey Ward's embedded Photo
Buck 110 I’ve kept sharp since ‘72. Still razor sharp. Been a good ‘un.

Yep, I’m a Buck fan.

Slightly modified the sheath for flashlight carry many years back. Double duty. LOL. :-)

From: Franklin
09-Oct-19
WellStrung.....do you offer a "Bowsiter Discount" lol....those are some beauties.

Funny Fuzzy and Matt bring up the Buck pathfinder....that`s my preferred deer knife. It`s perfect for coring the muffler.

From: Whocares
09-Oct-19
Have used a Buck 110 folder forever. Wouldn't be without it. Did use an outdoor edge on several elk this Fall and it was great. But one knife - the Buck no doubt.

From: cnelk
09-Oct-19

cnelk's embedded Photo
cnelk's embedded Photo
Cutco - guaranteed for life

From: sdkhunter
10-Oct-19
The last couple of years I’ve been using the havalon titan which has a traditional changeable havalon blade on one end and a fixed blade on the other... worked great both deboning and quartering elk... think they may have changed the model name now but they make a similar new model with the fixed and replaceable blade...

https://www.academy.com/shop/pdp/havalon®-knives-titan-jim-shockey-signature-series-double-bladed-hunting-knife

From: Moben
10-Oct-19
Anybody else have a problem with Havalon blades coming off. Mine seem to while I'm deep in a chest cavity. Happened more than once.

From: Ucsdryder
10-Oct-19
I’ve never had that issue with my Havalon. I’ve done 8 animals the last 5 years. I usually break one and dull one, so 3 blades is about right.

From: PECO
10-Oct-19
I used a Havalon twice and blade broke. Now, that was first generation and I've heard the new blades are better. But to me, they still have a hell of a weak spot in their design. The Outdoor Edge is a better design. I'll stick with real knives, and real broad heads.

From: WapitiBob
10-Oct-19
Different series blades work fine, I don’t remember the number. They’re a little bit heavier. Never had a blade come off.

10-Oct-19
"From beaver to moose, a Havalon is all I carry anymore. It's done everything I've ever needed and is sharper than hell."

X2

After initially breaking a lot of blades, I'm now well over a dozen animals without breaking a single blade. Once you learn how to hold it and what torque it will and will not take, it's a non-issue. This includes separating the shanks off of all these animals, which involves cutting 8 joints per animal. I've also separated several skulls from the spine without breaking a blade.

From: WapitiBob
10-Oct-19
I started separating the hind leg at the end of the femur. Cut the shanks loose from the bone, sever the large exposed tendon, and the joint is held together with only a cpl tendons. Shortens the hind quarter by about a foot and no real joint to deal with.

From: CJE
10-Oct-19

CJE's embedded Photo
CJE's embedded Photo
It seems like I make a knife for every hunting season or for every hunting trip I go on. This one will be on my side this year. Seems like I keep going back to this blade style for just about everything.

From: Grubby
10-Oct-19
I like a real knife as much as the next guy but a replaceable is more convenient and for what I do more suitable. I bought a Kershaw lone rock this summer and it is my favorite now, I like it enough that I bought 2 more to have on hand for gifts or whatever comes up. Also comes with a scalpel handle. Once I’m home and skinning or caping the scalpel handle is what I use.

From: moosenelson
12-Oct-19

moosenelson's embedded Photo
moosenelson's embedded Photo
I had to gut, skin and break down 4 bull moose in 4 days and i had to be done 2 hours before dark. Knives= outdoor edge, havalon, cutco, buck, a custom made knife from some dude in germany and grohman. (I had used the havalon previously for 1 bear and 1 deer and didnt really like it.). Last place was definitely the cutco because it dulled so fast. The german knife was barely passable, the grohman was pretty good, the outdoor edge knives worked quite well but that havalon saved my back! 1-2 blades per bull depending on how slow i went. Breaking down 4 bulls on a river bank is some serious knife work!

Here is 2 of em.

From: moosenelson
12-Oct-19

moosenelson's embedded Photo
moosenelson's embedded Photo
Missed a pic. Why do they die in the river? This doubled the work...... The last one chose a better place.

Sadly i have no pics of the first one.

From: Orion
12-Oct-19
Well-Strung you do some beautiful work! My go to knife is a Benchmade Steep Country. The factory sheath sucks, but it has been a wonderful addition overall. I have butchered two deer and a cow elk with it in the last year, and it is still shaving sharp. I also carry an Outdoor Edge just in case.

From: Dino
12-Oct-19
Love my folding buck 110’s.

From: JakeBrake
12-Oct-19
Another vote for Cutco

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