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Stainless Steel and Carbon (Ceramic too!)…they’re all competing to be the best hunting blade steel, but the winner is…
What is the best steel for hunting knives?
That’s easy. S…
Okay seriously though:
Before I just give you the answer there’s something you need to keep in mind. My opinion is just that…my opinion. One man will swear by Carbon for its durability and strength while another will stick with Stainless steel because it’s much more rust and corrosion resistant.
It seems like stainless steel and carbon blades are flooding the market, not only in the hunting knife department, they actually battle it out in the kitchen too. If you’re having a hard time believing this, check out my friend Mary’s article on The Best Quality Kitchen Knives.
Anyway back to the point here…
Stainless Steel VS Carbon Blades
Stainless steel and carbon each have their own crowds favoring the one over the other.
Since your blade is essential to your hunting experience, it has to be pretty darn good, right?
Stainless Steel – here’s why it’s great
Essentially, stainless steel blades are made up from several components including iron, nickel, carbon and chromium. It’s superb at resisting rust BUT it’s not nearly as sharp as a carbon blade. It will also stain pretty easily in specific climates. Most hunters really don’t care for stains on their hunting knife blades, because let’s be real – your hunting knife is not the trophy here.
Carbon – here’s why it’s great
Carbon steel blades definitely have the money in the bag when it comes to the sharpness test. It just totally flattens the abilities of stainless steel without even trying. Carbon blades are also easier to care for and maintain the edges. They come ready to go right out of their boxes. BUT carbon blades are like babies, and they need a lot of TLC.
Compared to stainless steel, carbon blades aren’t as top-notch when it comes to performance over the long run. Extremely prone to rust and discoloration, you’ll need a solid warranty and a love of sharpening if you’re planning on investing in a carbon blade.
You see both blade types have their pros and cons. When it comes down to my personal preference, I always opt for Stainless steel because out in the field I just don’t have time for nitty gritty sharpening sessions and always taking the best care of my blade. So let’s find out options for the best steel for hunting knives.
But, as they say, each to his own…
I’ve rounded up the best rated hunting knives out there, varying between stainless steel and carbon blades, so there’s a little thing for everyone here.
The Best Steel For Hunting Knives AND Carbon Blades
ESEE Knives LSP Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife
I love unique hunting knives, they make for some of the best gifts for hunters, and the ESEE LSP goes out of its way to be radically different and innovative on every level. Measuring in at an overall length of 10 inches, the ESEE LSP boasts a 1095 high-carbon steel blade of 4.75 inches.
The skeleton with its 1095 construction and powder finish doesn’t only look good, it makes the knife super durable. It also comes with a multi-feature sheath that has a tensioner, Paracord lanyard with a lock and an ambidextrous clip plate. All-in-all I love this carbon blade because it retains its edge over a very long time.
- Its super durable
- It has a nice thick blade which gets any job done
- It comes with a great warranty and is transferrable
- The two-position handle isn’t going to sit well with just anyone
- I would have loved some more length on the handle
Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife
This looker of a knife boasting a 5.5 inch blade of cro-van steel and an overall length of 10.5 inches would have aced any ‘looks only’ countdown. The 20 degree edged blade with its Grivory handle is seriously a game changer in the hunting knife industry. Razor sharp straight out of the box, the Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Companion Fixed Blade Knife is ready to get straight to skinning or filleting and won’t let you down.
- The thick blade is super durable
- The addition of the lanyard holes is a great bonus
- It’s a rugged knife that comes with a limited lifetime warranty
- The glass-filled nylon sheath isn’t really the best out there
- It’s heavy, weighing in at 1.5 pounds
Puma Skinner Stag Handle Blade
The Puma Skinner is a fixed blade hunting knife and measures in at a total length of 9.4 inches. It’s capable of tackling a wide array of applications and in terms of quality; this is one of the best out there. The stag scale design looks great and you can really see that this is the genius work of many professional craftsmen with the interesting design. You can really sit back and rely on the 440A German Steel blade with its razor sharp edges. I like the (fairly good) high-grain leather sheath with its brown aniline finish. If you’re hard up on looks, the Puma Skinner Stag Handle Blade shouldn’t let you down with its stag handles, brass finger guards and pins, brass lined lanyard holes and an overall sleek look.
- It’s a high quality knife
- The price really justifies the amazing quality you get
- It’s great at edge retention and sharpening the blade is seriously effortless
- The handle is a little blocky in my opinion, but it should be a great fit for larger hands
Buck Knives 110BRS Folding Hunter Knife
By now you should know that I’m a pro-Buck hunter. I love all of their knives, and the 110BRS Folding Hunter Knife is no exception to that rule. Coming in with a 3 3/4 inch 420HC steel chip blade, the Buck Folding Hunter Knife measures in at 4 7/8 inches at closed length. It’s one of the lightest hunting knives out there, weighing in at just less than half a pound, and obviously carrying the famous Buck Forever Warranty.
- The Buck Folding Hunter Knife comes with a high quality leather sheath and boasts a working locking mechanism on the knife itself
- The Dymonwood handle with its polished bolsters looks great
- It might be a small design, but this knife is capable of small and big tasks alike
- It’s a Buck…what can be wrong? Let me pick at the sheath just to say something here. It could have been a little more durable.
Fallkniven NL4 Leather Handle Plain Leather Sheath
If you’re cool with dropping heaps of cash for a hunting knife, Fallkniven is a great name to turn to. Their NL4 Leather Handle Plain Leather Sheath will either immediately grab your attention or have you running for the hills. The 5.12 inch plain edge drop point VG10 steel blade gives you all the edge and durability you want and need and the brown leather handle screams out quality in every sense of the word. The Fallkniven NL4 actually comes with one of the best leather sheaths I’ve ever seen in a hunting knife. Weighing in at just 6.7 ounces, the Fallkniven NL4 is super durable and very useful.
- It’s a very versatile knife
- It maintains a razor sharp edge for what seems to be forever
- It’s a no-frills hunting knife that feels great in your hand and handles amazingly well
- The warranty (which isn’t really defined at all) is an issue to me
- It’s expensive
Cold Steel Voyager XL Vaquero Plain Edge Knife
Boasting a blade thickness of 4mm and one of the coolest hunting knife names out there, the Cold Steel Voyager XL Vaquero is one of the strongest folding knives I’ve ever tried out. It comes with the Tri-Ad™ lock mechanism, which happens to be one of the most fool-proof systems out there. I really appreciated the thick, extra wide blade, cut from VG-1 San Mai III Steel which is dangerously sharp, and stays that way for a long time.
- It’s rather lightweight, coming in at just 6.5 ounces
- The overall length (unfolded) measures in at 12 1/4 inches, making it a very versatile hunting knife
- It’s a kick-ass strong knife that’s durable, and the price is just a score
- The size might be an issue; I mean this knife comes in as one of the largest folding hunting knives out there
- The lock is hard to operate in the initial stages
So you see, I listed 6 of the best hunting knives here, and they all boast some of the best steel for hunting knives that money can buy. At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to what blade steel you opt for, as long as your hunting knife can get the job in mind done.
If you liked this article, you’re definitely going to dig what I’ve got coming up. I’ll be showing you the best Small Hunting Knives and the best Big Hunting Knives out there before I’ll share some more great info on Personalized Hunting Knife brands and even more of the Best Gift Ideas for Hunters.
Remember that if you happen to get lost somewhere along the line here, just head back to my intro article (Gift Ideas for Hunters) to get up to speed with why exactly I’m covering these topics!