For many people their fondest memories of hunting are that first trip with their father, or perhaps a favorite uncle. It’s often a sort of rite of passage that signals the approach of manhood and it fills them with a feeling of pride and accomplishment.
What could be better than an opportunity to bond with the most important male figures in a young man’s life and a chance to get away from the house for a weekend and experience everything nature has to offer? Well it’s not all glamorous and those young men often get brought back down to reality when they get introduced to the necessity of field dressing an animal.
That was the experience my brother-in-law had on that first hunt with his father and from what he tells me it’s an experience he’s never forgotten. Whether you dislike the process of field dressing or not it has to be done. If you don’t remove the internal organs as soon as possible bacteria begins to take hold and the meat from the animal will quickly become unusable.
If you’re going to be able to field dress an animal shortly after you’ve had some success on the hunt you need to have the right tools for the job. That means you need a good field dressing knife. In reality you could use just about any knife in a pinch, but an actual field dressing knife makes the whole process a lot easier.
In this article we’ll take a look at some of your best options and we’ll explain the process as well as the features you should be looking for when purchasing one. We’ve chosen 5 knives that fit the bill and we’ll explain why we think they should be on your short list.
Each one has unique characteristics that make it a good choice as a field dressing tool. This may not be the most enjoyable aspect of a hunting trip for most people, but it’s a necessary one.
- 1 Field Dressing Knife Reviews
- 2 Key Features of Field Dressing knives
- 3 Conclusion
Field Dressing Knife Reviews
Real Avid Viscera Field Dressing Tool
The Real Avid Viscera Field Dressing Tool is a modified drop point 440 stainless steel blade that makes it ideal for use on both deer and moose.
It has a nice sharp point that breaks the skin of an animal in seconds and it also has a gutting hook and a serrated edge for gutting the animal as well as removing the meat from the bone.
The handle is made from a durable rubber material that makes it easy to grip the knife while you’re using it and ensures you don’t lose your grip while you’re field dressing an animal.
To switch between using the standard blade or the gutting hook you simply push a small button located near the base of the blade. It’s a straightforward system that makes switching tools easy.
This knife weighs in at about 8 ounces so it’s easy to work with – you won’t tire out easily after a difficult hunt.
It also comes with a nylon sheath so that you can keep your knife protected from the elements when you’re not using it. If you like to hunt this is a great field dressing tool for your equipment bag.
Real Avid Viscera Summary:
- 440 stainless steel blade
- Built-in gutting hook
- Durable rubber handle
- Ergonomic design
The Gerber Myth Field Dress kit is actually two knives in one. There’s a fixed gut hook knife and a smaller knife that’s compact with a fixed blade for finer work. Both knives fit securely in the supplied sheath when not in use.
The sheath also houses a built-in sharpener to keep your tools nice and sharp for when they’re needed.
This is the essential field dressing kit for any avid hunter that’s not afraid to get their hands a little dirty. There will always be one of two in the hunting party that don’t like this part of the trip, but that’s not you!
These Gerber knives feature strong carbon steel blades and they’re designed to stay sharp with minimum effort. They maintain their edge after repeated use.
The handle is composed of a textured rubber material that makes it easier to maintain your grip as you work through the procedure. The smaller knife weighs 5 ounces and the larger knife with the gut hook comes in at about 13 ounces.
This is a popular choice among hunting enthusiasts because of its reliability and consistency.
There have been some complaints about the sharpness of the serrated edge on the larger knife, but overall the reviews on this knife are positive. It’s also priced under $100 so it’s an affordable option as well.
Gerber Myth Field Dress Kit Summary:
- Compact design
- Built-in sharpener sheath
- Strong carbon steel blade
- Affordable under $100
Buck 192BR Vanguard Fixed Blade Knife
This is a no nonsense basic traditional knife that is great if you like to use a standard blade for all your field dressing needs.
It has a 4 -1/8” drop point blade and it’s made from 420HC steel that has a reputation for strength and helps to make sure the blades sharpness is maintained after repeated use.
This is a fixed blade knife that’s designed to withstand a lot of wear and tear. It has a walnut contoured handle that has enough of a bend in it to allow you to maintain your grip.
Although some see wooden handles like this as problematic for the field dressing process. The overall length, including blade and handle, is about 8 ½ inches. That’s a nice length for a field dressing tool.
The sheath is made from genuine leather and the knife comes with a full lifetime warranty.
This is a great blade, but if you prefer a more specialize knife this probably isn’t what you’re looking for. For the traditionalist this is a nice choice.
Buck 192BR Vanguard Summary:
- Made from 420HC steel
- 4-1/8" drop point blade
- Fixed blade knife
- Full lifetime warranty
The Buck Knives Skinner is one of the most unique knives you’ll come across that’s designed to be used in the field dressing process.
As the name suggest this knife is meant to be used for a specialized task – skinning the animal. It can be used for other tasks it’s just not ideal for other parts of the process. There is no gut hook and no serrated edge.
That’s probably the biggest drawback of this knife as you will likely need another one for the other steps along the way. If you don’t have an issue with using more than one knife this is a nice sharp tool that’s backed by Buck Knives reliable workmanship.
The blade is razor sharp and measures 2 7/8 inches. It’s made from 420HC steel that’s strong and maintains a good edge.
This type of steel is also designed to resist corrosion and because of that you’ll get many years of use out of this knife. The overall length including blade and handle is 6 -5/8 inches.
This is one of the lightest knives around at just 2.5 ounces and it has an ergonomic handle that makes it easy to work with.
It comes with a lifetime Buck Forever warranty and by all accounts there’s a good chance you’ll never have to use it. If you’re looking for a specialized knife for skinning this is the one for you.
Buck Knives Skinner Summary:
- Reliable workmanship
- Razor sharp blade
- Ergonomic handle
- Lifetime warranty
Buck Knives 393 Omni Hunter
The Buck Knives 393 Omni Hunter 12 point is a great knife at a great price. This one typically retails for under $50, but it has all of the features you’re looking for in a field dressing knife.
It has a 4 inch blade made from 420HC steel that’s made to last. It’s durable, strong, and corrosion resistant.
Along with a razor sharp edge it also has a gut hook opposite the main blade and a serrated edge near the butt of the blade. This is a knife designed to be used every step of the way.
This is a longer knife than some others on the market at 9 -3/4 inches, but it’s still a good size for field dressing. It weighs 7.8 ounces which is a nice comfortable weight for a knife.
A black nylon sheath is also included to keep the knife protected when not in use and it snaps securely around the handle to hold it in place while it’s attached to your belt.
There is a lanyard hole on the handle of the knife if you prefer to tie it off on your backpack as well. It also comes with a lifetime warranty, which is another reason this knife is our pick for best overall value.
Buck Knives 393 Omni Hunter Summary:
- Durable 420HC steel blade
- Corrosion resistant
- Razor sharp edge
- Lifetime warranty
Key Features of Field Dressing knives
Understanding the Process
There’s no way to sugar coat the process of field dressing an animal – it’s a messy process. The first step is to gut the animal and remove all the internal organs. Next you need to skin the animal as the hide is normally of no use to most hunters.
This is followed by deboning the animal or removing the meat from the bone and the final step is to butcher the meat and separate it into freezer packs to take home. It’s a fairly straightforward process, but it is labor intensive and you must have a reliable knife to assist you.
Type of Knife
As we’ve already indicated you can use any type of knife to field dress an animal, but knives that are specifically designed for the process have some key advantages.
They normally have sharp points for breaking the skin and they often have a gut hook on one side to assist you in gutting the animal. Some even have a serrated edge to make it easier to remove meat from the bone.
Point of the Blade
The point of the blade of a field dressing knife should be strong and sharp. You need to use it in breaking the skin initially, but you don’t want to break the tip in the process.
A sharp point will also allow you to pierce the skin in a controlled manner so that you’re not damaging the meat in the process. The knives in our reviews are all good choices in this regard.
While there isn’t a perfect blade length when it comes to field dressing knives there is a recommended range. Typically a blade that’s between 3 and 5 inches in length is ideal for this purpose.
While you can use any knife in a pinch, knives that have a blade length in this range will be easier to wield and will help you to speed up the process.
Material Composition of the Blade
Hunting knives of any type normally have blades made from carbon steel or stainless steel. Both are strong tools, but carbon steel is typically a little stronger and more durable in general.
A stainless steel knife can last you for years as long as you take care of it so if you find one that fits your budget it’s not a bad choice. Field dressing knives are made from both types of materials.
The handles of knives can be made from different materials including wood, plastic, rubber, and some kind of metal.
Wood handled knives are not recommended for field dressing knives because of the likelihood that you may lose your grip from working in the innards of the animal. A ridged or rubber handle is ideal because it’s easier to maintain your grip at all times.
If you’re serious about hunting you should make sure you have a good field dressing knife. One with a gut hook and a serrated edge are ideal.
While you can use any knife for field dressing a specialized knife will make the process a lot easier. Just be sure any knife you choose has a sharp edge and that it’s built to last.