Best hunting knife 2023 - The next generation hunting knives

Updated guide with everything you need to know to select the best hunting knife

Read this before buying so you don't miss the important features.

Selecting the best hunting knife is no easy task.

A good hunting knife should manage everything from splitting firewood to field dressing. And everything in between.

We wrote the first guide on hunting knives back in 2016.

It is one of our most read articles. To our great joy, it has also been the main source of inspiration for some of our competitors.

Best hunting knife

The first specially developed Knv hunting knife was introduced in 2013.

Knife Knv3.

84 mm (3 1/3") hot-forged solid steel drop-point blade that you can cover with your index finger for perfect field dressing. 4.5 mm (1/5") blade thickness that allow you to cut right trough the chest bone of a grown wildboar.

TPEE rubberized handle for maximum comfort during long work and cold weather. Generous finger guard / quillion that prevent slipping even when the hands are cold and smudgy from field dressing.

All functionally carried in a antibacterial Kydex sheath with perfect fit and simplest possible cleaning.

That was our starting point.  

Ever since, we have been in a continuous test-driven development process to stay in the absolute forefront.

Every Knv Knife is tested to meet 89 specific performance requirements. It's what makes jaktkit hunting knives apart different from others. You can read more about our performance requirements and thinking in our jaktkit knife philosophy.

Although selecting a hunting knife is much a matter of preference and taste, there are some vital features that you need to consider.

In this guide you will find everything you need to know to select the best hunting knife for you.

Hunting knife blade

The hunting knife should above all have a well-thought-out blade shape to function well.

  • A slightly rounded back (drop-point) makes field dressing easier and reduces the risk of injuring the intestine
  • A shorter blade is easier to handle and can be covered by the index finger during field dressing to avoid puncturing the intestine with the blade tip
  • A slightly rounded profile on the edge side facilitates skinning

Some knives are equipped with special belly openers. However, those are mainly targeted at novice hunters and will limit the knife's versatility and blade durability. Belly openers rarely gives the same fine results as a well-designed knife blade in experienced hands. More often a belly opener is cutting too deep/shallow and creates a mess if and when it's unable to cut trough the chest bone.

Hunting Knife Knv2 VG-10 Cobalt - hunting knife in vg10 steel

Best handle for hunting knife

Hunting knives should be equipped with an easy-to-grip handle and well-sized quillion (finger guard) so that you can work safely with the knife both when your hands are frozen and when the knife is sticky during game handling.

Knives with handles in G10 and Micarta are sometimes marketed as hunting knives, but as the steel is exposed directly in the hand, they are unsuitable for our Nordic climate.

The same applies to knives with a metal paring bar. Even in normal autumn weather, the cooling effect can be so strong that the hand becomes (temporarily) unusable. It is even worse in extreme cold.

At -26 C, the temperature difference and the risk of injury is as great as when you take a 100 degree oven tray with your bare hand.

Knife handles made of leather, horn, Micarta or other porous and organic materials are equally unsuitable for hygiene reasons.

Hunting knife hygiene

"Wild" and exotic "game" taste are much talked about among hunters.

What many people do not realize is that it's often due to inadequate meat handling.

In recent years, hygiene in the handling of wild game has received greater attention. This has contributed to both changing field dressing routines and higher quality of the harvested game.

However, what is often forgotten is the hygiene of the hunting knife and the knife sheath.

While more and more hunters use plastic gloves with the same finesse as eminent heart surgeons, they can without reflection pull out the hunting knife from an unwashed leather sheath that has collected old residues of salami sausage and field dressed moose bulls for decades.

Cleaning bullets residue, dressing, butchering in an clean environment and washing hands / using plastic gloves are now standard practice for most hunters.

Fortunately, awareness of the impact of the hunting knife and the importance of the sheath hygiene is beginning to increase. Something we have worked with and informed about for over a decade.

Previously, few people reflected on how much bacteria accumulates in a Cordura or leather sheath from a field dressing in the woods. Nor over the bacteria that result from cutting hotdogs, weekend after weekend during wonderful hunting moments, without proper sheath cleaning.

To some extent, this also applies to folding knives when used for hunting. They are not inherently unsanitary, but the design of the folding knife with many nooks and crannies makes them much more demanding to clean than hunters endure after a long day in the woods.

A good hunting knife should be easy to clean. The same applies to the sheath.

bäst jaktkniv med kydexslida från jaktkit

Hygiene - Details to consider

  • The hunting knife does not have to be stainless (corrosion resistant) steel, but it makes maintenance a lot easier if it is
  • The sheath for the hunting knife must be easy to clean/wash. The material should repel bacteria growth. Sheaths made of hard synthetic/kydex/plastic materials are well suited
  • The handle of the hunting knife must withstand washing and have no pores that can bind bacteria. Handles made of plastic, rubber and "saturated" wood work great

Tough hunting knife

Many "hunting knives" and butcher sets are made with thin blades for cost reasons. It allows the blades to be pressed out of the steel plate, much like gingerbreads, during manufacturing and thin blades requires less costly grinding work for the edge to feel sharp. For a filet knife thin blade is justified, but for a hunting knife it has no advantages.

For the serious hunter, a well-made hunting knife with a robust blade is preferable and makes the knife more durable and versatile.

Few things are as annoying as puncturing the abdomen and destroying meat when field dressing because you broke a too small knife in the sternum or because you have to start looking for a saw in the middle of the process.

Even more annoying if you also forcefully cut your own wrist off on the broken blade, die, and thus miss future hunts.

Then it is difficult to feel any great joy even if the knife was "cheap".

A robust and well-made hunting knife pays off in hunting experience over time. The fact that it's also splits wood for the fire during hunting breaks without hesitation is just a nice bonus.

Robust jaktkniv med 5,1 mm bladtjocklek

Best steel for a hunting knife

A thick blade is not enough. A knife blade also requires a high-quality steel that has been properly hardened and tempered for the purpose. Steel is specially heat treated to receive the right balance between hardness and toughness.

Very simply, the heat treatment consists of:

  • Hardening - The steel is heated to such a high temperature that it loses its magnetism and is then rapidly cooled. It maximizes the steel's hardness, but at the same time makes the steel brittle
  • The steel is then tempered to reduce internal stresses and make it tougher. During tempering, the steel is normally heated up to between 150-200 degrees for a long time and the temperature is gradually lowered. If the steel is tempered at too high a temperature and for a long time, it becomes tough, but at the same time the edge loses its sharpness more quickly. If the steel is tempered at too low a temperature or cooled too quickly, a higher edge resistance is obtained. At the same time, the blade risks becoming brittle, chipping and cracking under high load. Tempering is therefore a demanding process and a balancing act in order to obtain optimal performance based on the capacity of the steel and the intended area of use of the knife

The higher the quality of the steel, the higher the level is raised, so that you can get more of both hardness and toughness. Which ultimately give better durability and edge retention if the heat treatment is done correctly.

Both the manufacturing process itself and the metallurgical composition contribute to giving the steel its specific character.

Therefore, extensive practical testing is required to gain a full understanding of the steel's performance. It isn't enough to just look at steel tables. However, a steel table can give an indication.

Many high-quality steels have fairly generous levels of carbon (C), chromium (Cr) and molybdenum (Mo) which contribute to both hardness and toughness.

Vanadium (V) and Cobalt (Co) are also found in many modern high-performance steels.

A carbon content of 1-1.5% is usually a good benchmark for high performance knives.

If the carbon content is considerably higher, there is an obvious risk that the finished knife will be too brittle, all else being equal.

Budget knives typically have carbon content of 0.4-0.7%. Low carbon content requires less expensive alloys to stabilize. In addition, these softer steels are significantly easier to process in manufacturing, which reduces both manufacturing cost and time. Finally, the heat treatment is less complexity and costly when carbon and alloy content is lower.

That is why budget knives cost less and but performs poorly.

As a general rule: High price doesn't necessarily guarantee high performance, but cheap knives always give you the low performance you are paying for.

How to carry a hunting knife

You will carry your hunting knife with you in all situations, often together with other equipment. Therefore, it is important that you can easily attach it exactly where you want it and that it sits properly in the knife sheath so that it is really in place when you need it. For this reason look for versatile fixation and a good fit between knife and sheath. Many knife makers see the knife as a stand alone product and the sheath as something you add later with little to no consideration. For this reason you can often judge a hunting knifes true quality by the quality of its sheath. 

Bonus tip about field game

  1. Wait to fit until you get home and have hung the game properly. Filling the abdominal cavity with blood and the glories of the forest during field dressing in the forest does not improve the quality of the meat. Even in the case of belly shooting, it is doubtful whether it does any good. Instead, take the game home as quickly as possible so that you have access to both water and paper to minimize damage. If the field dressing is done carefully, it is possible to remove all the inner membranes so that it is completely clean when you are done
  2. Most membranes and fat accumulations in the abdomen/animal body are loosened by hand if pulled rearward (upwards when the animal hangs by its hind legs). Unnecessary cutting only creates slurries that look unappetizing and act as breeding ground for bacteria to breed during tenderizing
  3. Feel free to use rubber gloves for hygiene, but even more important is to work so that the knife is always clean and to hold the fur or hooves that will then be cut anyway and not to touch the meat you are going to handle, neither with or without gloves

Jaktkit hunting knives

It all started in Kalmar.

A Swedish city so stony and harsh that its ancient nameincludes both "cairn” [stenröse] and “gravel islands"[grusiga öar].

Its inhabitants. Kalmariten. Harsh, resilient and stubborn.

True iron men whose strenuous daily chores so impressed on medieval Hawaiian traders that they later started endurance races in their the saying goes.

A perfect location for an unconventional knife maker dedicated to break new ground. Welcome to our world!


You don't go alone

Jaktkit knives follow no trends.

Aren't designed to please.

Yet, jaktkit Knv knives have managed to become favoured tools among frontrunners. Around the world.

You recognize them, they recognize you.

When you put your jaktkit knife in your belt you don't walk alone.

Med jaktkit går du aldrig ensam

One of us

Every Knv knife is tested to meet 89 specific performance requirements.

Small details that make Knv knives different from other knives.

We are truly humble and honoured that our Knv knives have been so well received.

We are allowed to disclose that Piketen - a special operations unit of the Swedish Police - were among the first to select Knv knives for test.

2016 Knife Knv2 received the highest test score among Swedish knives from reputable Dutch Bushcraft, in strong competition with quality knives from Fallkniven (A1, F1 & S1) and Morakniven(Pathfinder & Tactical SRT)

Not loved by everyone, but favoured in test after test.

It’s time. Become one of us.Buy your jaktkit hunting knife here