The Best Butcher Knives For Hunters From Budget To High End
We’ve spent a bit of time talking about good knives to take on a hunting trip, but what about when you’re home, nice and snug in the butcher shop you probably have, and it’s time to turn that kill into a freezer full of venison? What do you need to start butchering meat at home or in the garage, and what’s the best full set of butcher knives you can have in that situation?
Here are some good sets of knives from budget to high-end to have in your kitchen or garage butcher shop for when it’s time turn some dead bodies into edible portions of meat.
Also I guess I should mention this list assumes those dead bodies will be, like, deer or turkey or something. But I’m not here to tell you how to live your life.
I’ve tried to include a wide range in terms of price, which means that not all these sets are top notch quality, but they’re all good enough to take good care of your game.
Here are the best butcher knife sets for hunters
|Victorinox Ultimate 8-Piece Competition BBQ Set|
|Cold Steel Fixed Blade Hunting Kit|
|Victorinox Ultimate 8-Piece Competition BBQ Set|
|Ontario Knife Co. 5-Piece Old Hickory Knife Set 705|
|Outdoor Edge Wild Pak 8-Piece Game Processing Kit|
|Dexter Russell Butcher Chef Set|
|Lancegear 11-Piece Field Dressing Kit|
Victorinox 7 Piece Field Dressing Butcher Knife Set
|6″ Boning Knife (Narrow)|
|6″ Boning Knife (Flexible)|
|8″ Breaking Knife|
|10″ Cimeter Butcher Knife|
|X50 CrMOV15 Steel|
|Storage: Portable Soft Case|
It’s hard to go wrong with anything made by Victorinox, but they’re usually in the high-price range. They get a lot of attention from professional cooks, not just people butchering stuff for fun. This set features two variations of boning knives so you’ll have a pretty broad range of ability in terms of what kind of game you’re processing. Also that cimeter style butcher knife is fantastic for slicing up sections. This would also make a pretty good hunting set, despite the clean-cut look. Between the roll-up case and the high carbon steel, this is a sturdy, portable set if you’re planning a long camping trip and have a nice spot to set up.
Cold Steel Fixed Blade Hunting Kit
|4” skinner w/ gut hook|
|4” general purpose|
|6” bone saw|
|4116 stainless steel|
This thick-handled set has all the usual suspects of a field-dressing kit, with the exception of the “general purpose” knife which has a lot of the feel and look of a bushcraft design. Between the thick blade and the curve of the handle, you wouldn’t be too hard pressed if you needed to use the set to hack up branches and build a shelter or a blind. Which is to say that Cold Steel is a little off the mark when they say the five knives here have a “specific purpose and use”.
Semantics aside, these are great blades with a trusty steel that you’ve probably seen in German cutlery before. They’re also pretty darn comfortable. It’s not really a Cold Steel knife if it isn’t overbuilt, and overbuilt knives usually equate to big comfy handles. Wrap all that up with a hundred-dollar price tag, and you’ve got a solid kit to pack into the woods.
Victorinox Ultimate 8-Piece Competition BBQ Set
|Standard Paring Knife|
|10″ Cimeter w/Graton Blade|
|12″ Wide Slicer w/Graton Blade|
|9″ Sharpening Steel|
|8-Piece Knife Roll|
Where the Field Dressing Kit is technically made for wild game in the field, this is more for the butcher and cook at home. The Competition BBQ series is the Victorinox answer to every problem where slicing and cooking meat is concerned. The 8-pieces set is (for now) their largest set in the Fibrox Competition series and it provides you with everything you’ll need from the initial butchering to cutting grilled meat up for sandwiches.
All this cutlery might be a bit much for someone just looking to butcher. The granton-edge blades aren’t exactly a necessary inclusion, but they’re nice to have. For those looking to go smaller, you can get this set without the granton-edge knives and still get the nice knife roll and cimeter. Or if you want to go really big, there’s actually a 24-piece Fibrox set that will equip your entire kitchen for the remainder of its existence.
Ontario Knife Co. 5 Piece Old Hickory Knife Set 705
|8″ Slicing Knife|
|3.25″ Paring Knife|
|4″ Paring Knife|
|7″ Butchers Knife|
|6″ Boning Knife|
|1095 High Carbon Steel|
This is probably my favorite set on this list if for no other reason than that it looks the best.
It’s also crazy good though. Ontario Knife Co. know what they’re doing where hunters are concerned. They made this set with their typical 1095 high carbon steel with wood handles and compression rivets. It’s not the kind of thing you’ll see professional chefs using most of the time, because wood tends to harbor bacteria a lot easier, and that high carbon steel is harder to maintain over a 40 hour work week, but this is definitely good enough for any hunters who come home with a healthy load of deer or boar. Just make sure you clean everything properly when you’re done with them, because these are definitely more prone to rust than everything else on this list.
Outdoor Edge Wild Pak 8 Piece Game Processing Kit
|2.5” Caper blade|
|4.0” skinner w/ gut hook|
|Rubberized TPR handles|
|Game cleaning gloves|
|Rib cage spreader|
This was made so you can carry everything you need to process game in the field and have it ready for packing into the freezer when you get home. The hard case is pretty lightweight and easy to carry and slip behind or under a seat. It also has a little bit of extra room in there that you might be able to use to add your own little folder or small fixed blade (although I don’t know if that was by design).
All the knives are pretty thin, so they should have decent edge retention, but the steel is very soft, so you should expect to see a lot of deformation in the blade as you work. Fortunately Outdoor edge had the foresight to put in a carbide sharpener to straighten up the edges. All in all, it’s a good, complete hunting package in the budget range.
Dexter Russell 3 piece Butcher Chef Set
|6″ Boning Knife (Flexible)|
|6″ Trimming Knife|
|No Storage Case|
Let’s start light. This 3-piece set is probably best for small game like fowl or rabbit. Either that, or supplementing whatever butcher set you already have. The thing is, Dexter and Russell makes really solid stuff. They’re not top of the line by any means, but certainly good enough for a lot of professionals. I like these in particular for butchering because of the textured handle material that should make these easier to grip as things get messier. And since it’s some kind of synthetic plastic, rubbery material it’s less absorbent and easier to clean.
Granted, most of their knives are designed for professionals in the kitchen rather than the meat locker. The point is they have a good portfolio. These knives are a good place to start either building a full butchering set or replacing knives that are either too cheap or too worn to keep using.
LancerGear 11 Piece Field Dressing Kit
|3.9” skinner w/ gut hook|
|4.7” game shears|
|8” honing steel|
|Game cleaning gloves|
Some folks from the Airsoft crowd might be more familiar with the name Lancer Tactical. They’ve been making air rifles and accessories for a while. This collaboration with Realtree brings them into the hunting world with a satisfyingly complete field dressing kit.
Along with the typical skinner/caper/saw trio, this is one of the few kits on this list that features an axe, which comes in handy for breaking the pelvis or quartering meat. The whole kit weighs about 6 lbs which makes it easy to carry and slim enough to fit most places out of the way in a truck. And while the 8Cr15MoV steel isn’t the best out there, the honing will go a long way in keeping these knives cutting well until you get back home.
Anatomy of a Butcher Knife Set
If you’re new to butchering, all the different kinds of knives might seem over the top. I’ve talked to people who go through most of the process only using a boning knife and a slicer, or just the butcher knife or the breaker. But a lot of these different types of knives are made to make each step of butchering easier, which is a big deal if you’re going to be butchering a lot. Also if you use the right tools for everything you have a better chance of ending up with prime cuts when you’re done and waste less meat overall in the process.
These are meant for heavy chopping. You want a big heavy blade made out of tough steel, and preferably a convex grind to reduce the chances of chipping. You use a cleaver for cutting big chunks of meat, sometimes containing bone, in one quick motion.
A long blade with a big belly and usually a clip point. It’s the first of many kinds of knives made to section your meat. If you’re starting with a whole carcass, this is one of the first knives you’ll be reaching for.
You’ll see this variation of the butcher knife in a lot of butcher sets these days. Cimeter butcher knives are severely curved for better slicing. People who get the technique down seem to prefer this style. These are great for cutting up pieces into steaks and trimming fat.
This is sort of a subset of butcher knife. Basically you’ll be using this to break down larger pieces of meat into smaller pieces of meat, for example, this is what you might want to use cut out the pork loin or the tri tip.
You can use this for a lot of things, but its stated purpose is separating and cutting bone out of the animal. There are different types of boning knives based on their flexibility, ranging from flexible, semi-flexible, to stiff. If you’re butchering something smaller and delicate, generally you’ll want a flexible boning knife, and for things like beef you’ll want a stiffer blade.
This is that weird long knife that kind of looks like a bread knife but with a rounded tip. It’s very thin, and very sharp, and hopefully has a granton edge. You’re gonna use this for slicing thin pieces of cooked meat. This is essentially your lunch meat maker.
This has a lot of uses, but most often it comes into play when separating parts at very thick joints like at the hip our shoulder. Do not use a regular hacksaw or wood saw for this stuff. Butcher saws have a certain shape of teeth that are meant to cut bone and avoid getting clogged up with fat and sinew. Also, they’ll cut meat up more evenly, which will be a big deal when you start cooking.
A Quick Note About Butchering Saws in Sets
There must be some kind of phobia about including a decent saw in a butcher knife set, because for the life of me I can’t find one. There are a lot of great butcher sets out there, but if they have a saw (and the majority of them don’t), it’s usually the weak link of the set. So I’m giving up on it.
If you need a saw in your butcher shop, get something like the Weston Butcher Saw. It’s fairly low cost and reliable. Or if you need to save room, go for this Bahco saw. Some chefs and butchers don’t even use saws, though, and we have a larger purpose with this blog, so let’s get on with it.