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The Perfect Knife
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 beaver to moose, a Havalon is all I carry anymore. It's done everything I've ever needed and is sharper than hell.
My custom Wayne Depperschmidt does it for me. Size, balance, steel quality, and stunning craftsmanship.
Actually have several, they are a little addicting.
Buck Selkirk 863 (large) is good 'un. Comes with a functional and adjustable sheath. Oh, and comes with a ferro rod/whistle, too.
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.
Or the 118, similar
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I like my fixed blade BUCK 194 Alpha Hunter. Did get a Gerber Vidal this year but still prefer my Buck.
"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.
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.
All B.S. aside and I was to have only one hunting knife, it just might be a Buck 110 folder.
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.
The answer is pretty plain and simple - a Randall knife. Only knife that has a song written about it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Iron will K1 knife is pretty awesome. Weighs an ounce and it will hold and edge and it tough
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.
Havalon fan; did everything from the minute my Elk hit the ground till it was in coolers.
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!
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.
Beautiful knives Well-Strung
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
Great responses , I appreciate the input.
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
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.
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.
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.
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)?"
Thanks for the lesson Well-strung! Great looking knives!
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.
there's no one knife that excels at every task but my 30 year old Buck Pathfinder has come real close
I use silverstag knives when hunting. Since they first came out. Or I use a tried and true buck 110.
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.
Havalon titan. Best if both blades. Jim Shockley edition.
No Mercy's Link
" 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.
I have-it's made by Northern Knives in Alaska. M.A.K.-Multiple Animal Knife.
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!
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.
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!
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!!
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.??
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.
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.
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. :-)
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.
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.
Cutco - guaranteed for life
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...
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.
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.
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.
Different series blades work fine, I don’t remember the number. They’re a little bit heavier. Never had a blade come off.
"From beaver to moose, a Havalon is all I carry anymore. It's done everything I've ever needed and is sharper than hell."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Love my folding buck 110’s.
I love my mora companion, $25, its all I've used for the last 10 years
"Hi, can anyone advise quality fillet knife for fish? "
I always had good luck with the classic wood-handled Rapala knife.
The little buck 102 is my favorite out of the 40+ knives I have including several customs. Hard steel , hard to sharpen but stays sharp after you get it there!
I have a buck 102, I found it in the woods, inside its sheath. I assume that some guy 'dropped trou' and it came off his belt when he finished his 'business'. I mostly keep my 'belt' knives in the bottom of my day pack now ;-)
Well I know if you allowed me one knife and sent me into the wilderness, I wouldn't be choosing a Havalon. But I own 2 of them and they're tools I sometimes use. I just don't respect their strength enough to cover situations where a stout blade is a bonus.
Most people focus on the blade. I give the grip just as much attention. My perfect knife (if I ever find it) has a very comfortable non-slip handle for working in very wet and bloody conditions. I do not care what the grip looks like on a working knife. I care how it feels in the hand, and how well it performs if used multiple hours. Skeletons are non-starters for me. Slick and slim handles are pretty but that's it.
Drop points and ellipticals are my preferred blade shapes for multi-use. And while they are impractical for sharpening and such, I've found there is no contest (for me) between equally sharp straight and serrated edges. The serrated (when sharp) way out-performs a straight edge when I'm cutting ligaments, large tendons, small or softer ribs, or splitting a sternum. The Cutco Double-D blade has been the most impressive down-and-dirty cutting blade I've ever owned. Totally about utility and not looks. Impossible to sharpen except via the factory. Still worth it to me when I've got to get through a really big and tough job.
So I don't own a purple unicorn which would also be a perfect knife. There isn't one for me when I think about squirrels, grayling, whitetails, kindling, de-barking, moose, caribou and so on.
My favorite would be a musk ox handle drop point in S110V
Kevin Dill, good points. I think 'the perfect knife' is 'at least two'. I always have a multi-blade 'jack-knife' in my pocket and a 'hunting' knife in my daypack. Sometimes two. Not a fan of the 'one knife for everything' concept.
That said, if I was limited by laws or money, I'd choose something like the Buck 117 as a good compromise on size, weight and blade style.
"Hi, can anyone advise quality fillet knife for fish? " https://dexterrussellknives.com/dexter-traditional-8-fillet-knife-10351-2333-8/ This is the best fillet knife, I live very close to lake Winnipeg, so I clean a lot of walleye, I heard about this knife and gave it a try, it was only $30, I bought it at the commercial net place and its what the commercial fishermen use, its so good, not pretty tho
Another Cutco guy here. It has been through 10 moose in AK (not all mine), several elk, I don't know how many deer. I sharpen to 20 degrees on a Stay Sharp and then have a 20 degree (I forget the brand) field sharpener if I need a quick touch up. It could do a whole moose without, but I prefer a couple quick pulls a couple of times.
If you guys have the opportunity to buy, or have a custom knife made of CPM 10V steel, I highly recommend it. Very few knife makers will use 10V because it's so hard to work with. I found a guy named Phil Wilson in California who was willing to make a set for me. He heat treated them to a 61-62 Rockwell. Their edge retention is second to none, in my experience. I think the high vannadiam content of 10V is what separates it from other steels.
If you're wanting to fillet fish, the best I've used is the Bubba Blade 9" tapered flex. I've used it on everything from bluegills and crappie to bull reds and cobia.
Holds an edge longer than most, has excellent flex in the blade for filleting, and I particularly like the handle.
All my Florida buddies swear by the Bubba Blades for filleting. And they fillet a BUNCH of fish.
I'd pick a modern super-steel first.... for me that was Elmax steel as probably the highest edge retention in a true stainless blade. Then pick a knife size and style depending on use... hard camp bushcraft, Hunting/skinning, possible survival. In the end I went with Bark River Bravo-1LT. Though they offer thousands of combinations of super steels and shapes for every possible need.
The other brand I was considering was Dulo or Falkniven. Give them all a look.
Hi, what do you say about American Angler knives? Want to as a present to my husband for our wedding anniversary
I like these knife threads. So many brands mentioned, I google them, very interesting to find out about all the different knife makers there style of blades and handles even the sheaths. Some beautiful interesting stuff out there. I spend thousands of imaginary money every time I go thru one of these threads.
Thanks for starting and contributing.