Gutting knives – Buying Guide, Reviews, and Comparison
If you’re short on time and can’t go through all the gutting knife reviews out there but are still interested in some suggestions for a good product, then this short guide should prove right for you. After consulting a high number of customer reports, professional reviews and product comparisons, we’ve come to the conclusion that the Elk Ridge ER-300CA two-piece set will best fit the needs of most hunters and fishermen. The dedicated gutting knife was well appreciated for the dexterity it allows thanks to its amply curved short blade, finger hole, and gutting hook. The set also contains a small piercing knife, for extra versatility, and despite the high quality reported by owners, it all comes at a very affordable price. If budget is no concern and you’re after the latest purpose-built design, then the FieldTorq GLS-114MH might be right for you.
Our top choices
With all the choices available, selecting the best gutting knife might not be so easy. After browsing through what’s for sale, we’ve compiled a short list of top-performing products for your consideration.
Elk Ridge ER-300CA
Most experts agree that the ideal blade shape for gutting an animal is short and fat, with a relatively straight lower section that curves very steeply towards the point. The ER300CA holds to this very closely, with a nearly 90-degree angle between the base of its belly and the flat tip, which allows you to comfortably apply slices in a high number of directions.
There’s no need to worry that this high degree of specialization will somehow reduce your flexibility since the set also contains a small piercing blade with a very sharp, thin point, ideal for getting inside bone joints.
They are both made of highly sharpened 440 stainless steel, which offers a good medium between edge retention and corrosion resistance. This might also come as a good news to less experienced outdoorsmen since besides offering good all-around durability, the 440 is relatively easy to sharpen.
They also feature full tangs, meaning the metal goes all the way to the back of their non-slip camo-green handles, which gives additional durability and greatly extends use. This makes them exceptionally good value since the price of the kit is far lower than you would expect from the manufacturing quality.
The gutting knife included in this kit is ideal for performing slices with ease, as its design offers you the needed strength and ease of movement necessary for such an operation.
A piercing blade comes along with the gutting knife, which means that you will get all the versatility you need in a product that will help you tremendously when hunting.
Edge retention is always a big problem for hunting knives, which is why it is so important to have high-quality blades; in this case, the 440 stainless steel that comes already sharpened does the job.
The blades are resistant to corrosion, due to the high-quality material they are made of, so you can rest assured that you are making a solid investment if you decide to get this kit.
One reviewer commented on the fact that the handles on these blades are too small, which can be an issue for people with large hands.Buy from Amazon.com for ($15.85)
The thing that stands out the most about this FieldTorq product is its patented blade shape design, specially intended to provide good service through all the stages of gutting an animal: unzipping, slicing through flesh and cutting through ribs and pelvic bone, all the while avoiding any unwanted ruptures thanks to its remarkably flat tip.
Most owners comment it works as well as advertised and it can greatly reduce the time necessary for gutting, especially for casual outdoorsmen. Thanks to the rigid, well-sharpened blade it can cut through the ribs of large-sized game in one swoop.
Build quality is also reported to be excellent, with a fiberglass reinforced handle and a full tang, this knife promises to last for a long while. The steel used was measured at 58 HRC Rockwells, which is an appropriate hardness for a hunting knife, giving it both a sharp edge with very good retention properties and adequate corrosion resistance.
It does come at a somewhat steep price, however, since its design was developed in-house, but you do get a couple of premium additions, such as a leather holder and a dedicated sharpener to go with the cost.
One thing you may notice right away about this model is its unique design that provides excellent assistance throughout all the stages of gutting a wild animal.
The flat tip design is there to provide you with excellent performance, as it will not cause ruptures while you cut through flesh and bones.
Some of the most time-consuming and difficult tasks such as cutting through the pelvic bone of large animals are still performed without a glitch by this straightforward knife.
You will appreciate the full tang construction that makes this gutting knife a better solution for people who like to invest in durable items.
Good edge retention is another reason to like this knife.
There don’t seem to be negative reviews for this product, at this time, as well as no outstanding complaints, but seeing that it is a bit on the expensive side, that might be interpreted that this knife is not for the budget-minded hunter.Buy from Amazon.com for ($69.99)
Elk Ridge ER-274RC
This Elk Ridge model offers all the functionality of a gutting knife in a very affordable package. It has a small, fat blade with a flat tip and a little hook; an ergonomic handle with a full tang and good weight distribution.
The partially serrated spine is especially useful to hold your finger against for better dexterity, and the small hook has been praised for its ability to remove membrane and skin without causing any unwanted damage.
Its edge is reported to hold out well with multiple uses, but the convex section of the blade should make it especially easy to sharpen nevertheless, which makes for great convenience if you are not a fully proficient outdoorsman.
Another unexpected convenience feature is the color of the handle, which being bright orange will be easy to see in tall grass if the knife happens to be dropped. The same handle attracted some critique, however, due to the inexpensive-looking plastic is made off. This is somewhat diminished by its full tang design, which will allow for the knife to be used even if the handle breaks.
Excellent weight distribution is essential for a gutting knife, and it is a good thing that the Elk Ridge ER-274RC is designed with this purpose in mind.
The overall design is what you might expect in a proper gutting knife, as its fat, short construction gives you the power you need to cut through the flesh and bones of the animals you hunt.
You will notice the partially serrated spine the knife features; this allows you to hold one finger against the spine so that you can apply more force, if you need to.
An excellent gutting knife should have a small hook, to reduce damage to the skin of the animal when performing the gutting, and this blade delivers beautifully.
Buyers also appreciate the fact that the blade is easy to sharpen.
Some customers comment on the fact that the handle seems to be too hard, and they assume that the grip might not be that good, in wet environments or conditions.Buy from Amazon.com for ($6.91)
Given their wide area of use, there might not be such a thing as the best hunting knife for all purposes, but when you’re only looking at skinning and gutting an animal, some features stand out as more important than others. To help you out in your search, we’ll be taking a look at some of them below.
This is arguably the most important thing to have in mind since you will be doing a lot of precision operations, a properly shaped blade will help you out a lot. Factors like blade sharpness can easily be remedied by carrying a sharpener around, but there’s no convenient way to forge steel into a new shape.
The blade should be relatively short, as you will be required to make a lot of small, accurate cuts rather than slashes. It should also offer the possibility to be comfortably used from a wide range of angles.
This is done by employing a straight section towards the hilt, which dramatically curves as it reaches the tip, sometimes into a straight angle. In this way, the user won’t have to bend his hand to cut bits that sit directly in front of the knife.
It is also important for the point to be as blunt and unpronounced as possible, since a thin tip will run you the risk of accidentally piercing through things that should ideally be kept intact, like guts.
Hunting knives are generally made out of steel with a high degree of hardness — around 56 to 62 RHC on the most widely used Rockwell scale. This gives them good edge retention, which means you’ll have to sharpen them less often, but also the ability to hold a sharper cutting edge.
Usually, there are two main varieties of steel used to achieve this: either high carbon, that gives a sharper edge but it doesn’t hold very well to corrosion, and stainless, which is somewhat softer but doesn’t rust as easily. You can choose between the two based on whether you prefer sharpening or cleaning knives.
Arguably the most convenient thing to have is a hook at the opposite side of the blade. The best gut hook skinning knives will give you the possibility to cleanly remove the pelt from the animal without requiring any special skill.
Also, mind that many times your hands will be covered in slippery fat, so make sure that the handle is comfortable and offers good grip before purchasing.