The Best Hunting Knife Kits For Deer or Rabbit or Anything in-beween.
Maybe there are some knives that can do it all when it comes to dressing a deer, from the first slit down the belly to separating the pelvic bone. God knows companies like Condor and Buck make some pretty impressive knives that shoot for that role, but the average knife really isn’t ideal for taking you all the way from a whole deer with a bullet hole to venison hanging off the tree. There’s no shame in using scissors and a saw to get the work done properly, and you’ll probably get better results using the right tools anyway. That’s why they make hunting kits with a whole set of different hunting tools for dressing game.
Small Game Hunting Sets
These are knife sets that I’ve decided to classify as best used for small game, meaning anything from rabbit and fowl to boars. Usually it’s because the sets includes some kind of thin, flexible boning knife and short, stout skinning blades. Anything that seems best for working around small bones and shallow muscle generally falls under this category.
Morakniv Knives Hunting Set
- 5.75” boning knife
- 6.2” skinning knife
- 7” sharpening steel
- Steel: Stainless
- Handle: Textured, high-friction plastic
- Sheath: Set comes in a case
This isn’t quite an all-in-one set, but anyone who’s ever used a Mora knows that this will be a massively tough pair of blades to use. Their knives tend to be pretty flexible. They’re made to be abused, so you can usually get a Mora to work even on a job it wasn’t designed for. The fact that they’ve actually designed knives specific for skinning and boning is doubly helpful for hunters. Without a saw, this might seem better suited to something like turkey hunting, but if you really know what you’re doing, you should be able to do most of the work on bigger game. It might become a tense matter of perseverance, which is why I put this kit under small game sets, but the point is that the only thing better than one Mora is two Moras.
Schrade Old Timer Hunting Fixed Blade Set
- Fillet Knife
- Gut Hook Skinning Knife
- Caping Knife
- Steel: 3Cr13MoV
- Handle Material: Rosewood
- Sheath: Nylon
I’ve got a soft spot for Schrade’s Old Timer stuff. It’s like the scruffy dog that’s always sleeping on the corner. You’re not really sure if anyone actually owns it, or if it’s even alive half the time, but it does still bark and scare the squirrels off so it’s reliable to some extent. This set is actually a pretty decent looking group with its rosewood handles. It seems like it would be best for your next fishing trip. It has a nice long fillet knife with a decently flexible blade and a caper knife that you could use for either smaller fish or birds or for cooking in the field. For the weak point in this set is the skinning knife, which could do without the gut hook, but it’s still nice to have if you’re cooking with a grate over the fire or if you want to skin something larger than a rabbit.
The general look of the knives makes this set a decent present too, if you’re trying to a decently-priced gift for your hunting buddy.
Buck PakLite Elite
- 5.25” Boning knife
- 2.5” Capping knife
- Steel: CPM S30V
- Sheath: Polyester and polypyrene
- Made in: USA
It’s arguable this is good for small game because it has a good boning knife and caping knife but no skinning knife. The problem is that it’s a very thick boning knife and it’s made out of S30V steel. You won’t get a lot of flexibility with it, so it’s probably not the best for birds, rabbits or fish. You’re probably better off dressing things in the size range of boars. If you want a PakLite set with a skinning knife, though, we talk about it below the big game section.
Buck designed this set to be carried easily by bow hunters. The two knives are packed tightly into a hard plastic sheath with a nylon wrap around it, so you pretty much always have easy, unintrusive access to the knives when they’re on your belt. This shouldn’t flop around a lot when you’re hiking or jogging after a target.
Big Game Hunting Sets
In general, I classify any set containing a saw to be an okay big game set. Not that all of these have saws, though, and that’s partly because it’s hard to find a set that includes a decent one. Some big game kits just have big damn knives that are made either well enough or tough enough to handle heavy pressure.
Elk Ridge ER-252 3-Piece
- 7” knife
- 9” knife
- 8.25” bonesaw
- Steel: 440A
- Sheath: Nylon
- Handles: Plastic
This is a reasonable budget set. There’s nothing spectacular about the Elk Ridge tools except that they’re pretty cost-effective and they pack light. Also they work. That’s important too. The 440A steel is easy enough to sharpen and work with, but it’s not anywhere near what you’d call top quality, even in terms of corrosion resistance so you better be vigilant about cleaning. This is great for two kinds of hunters, I think: the one who just got into hunting and dressing game and doesn’t want to cut their teeth on a $300 set, and the hunter who has nothing to prove and just wants something cheap and easy to carry. This will work for both.
Gerber Myth Field Dress Kit
- 8.5” Fixed-blade guthook (3.75” blade)
- 7.25” Caping knife (3.25” blade)
- Handle: Rubber
- Sheath: Piggy-back style with built-in carbide sharpener
Thick blades and a compact sheath designed to clip onto your pack make this a great set for long hunting trips. No saw of course, but it will work just fine on big game, if that’s what you’re after. Gerber has a pretty decent history of hunting knife designs, especially when it comes to carrying the knives. The sheath for this set is pretty paracord friendly, so even though it’s not fully MOLLE compatible, it can become a nice horizontal carry if you’re clever with rope.
The Myth set is kind of an update of Gerber’s Moment Field Dress Kit, which is a cheaper alternative that doesn’t come with all the same gimmicks like a built in carbide sharpener. Gerber doesn’t exactly go all out on steel, so you might find the toughness lacking in some areas, but rest assured this is a tried and true hunting set. Treat it right, and it will treat you right.
Buck 141 PakLite Field Master Kit
- 3.5” Skinning knife
- 2.5” Caping knife
- Gut hook ring
- Steel: 420HC
- Made in: USA
They might not be optimized for comfort, but Buck’s Paklite series finds its way into a lot of hunting circles. They have a nice minimalist design that’s lightweight and really easy to clean, plus the sheath they come with has an adjustable belt loop and removable liners so you can wash it. This set will ride nice and tight to your belt, and gives you plenty of tools to pull straight from your hip when you’re skinning in the field.
Some people don’t like these knives because they can be kind of a pain to hold onto until you get used to it. One way around that is to wrap the handles in paracord, which will make them a little bulkier in the sheath, or just use them until your hand adapts to the feel. It’s not for everyone, but hunters who are big on saving weight will probably appreciate the PakLite knives.
- Gut hook
- Fillet knife
- Bone saw
- Game shears
- Skinning knife
- Caping knife
- Steel: 420HC
- Sheath: Comes in a case
Whatever you think you need on your hunting trip, the 131 set from Ruko gives you something a little extra. They actually put a dedicated gut hook in this set. It’s a whole tool that does nothing except have a gut hook on it, and to top it off they put a gut hook on the back of one of the knives. That’s two whole gut hooks. I promise the other stuff is useful though. It’s got everything from a little caper knife to a bone saw, all wrapped up in a carrying case so you’ve got something for pretty much any kind of animal you could possibly want to skin, dress, cook, and eat.
It’s not exactly top notch quality. 420HC steel is considered low-end budget stuff, especially when it isn’t made by Buck. It’s a compromise in quality but it gets the job done, and you’re getting a lot of steel for a price that most companies charge for a single knife.
Outdoor Edge Swingblaze Pak
- 9.25” Kodi saw (6” blade)
- 8.3” Swingblade (3.6” skinning blade, 3.2” gut blade)
This is easily the most interesting set on this list. The SwingBlaze knife is one of those oddities in the knife world that makes you wonder if designers aren’t staying up a little too late to come up with something new, but there’s some impressively innovative thought behind this blade.
Apparently that funny looking rounded end swinging on the opposite end of the knife blade is called a “gut blade”, and all reports I’ve come across say it works like a charm. It’s a nice change of pace from the ugly and mostly useless gut hooks everyone keeps hammering into otherwise perfectly good skinning blades. And that swinging blade does lock into place, by the way. Pictures make it look like a loose and lively knife ready to swing down onto your fingers at any moment, but there’s a sort of lockbar mechanism you engage to keep everything lock up.
For all the odd design, I enjoy the simplicity of this set. It’s like the Gerber Myth Field Dress Kit but you’re trading out the caper knife for a decent bone saw. Both the knife and the saw fit easily into a leather sheath that’s about 11 inches long. It’s not the most compact, but it’s snug, and there’s a lot of potential in the tools.
Smith & Wesson Campfire Set
- 11” Cleaver (6” blade)
- 9.5” Guthook Knife (6” Blade”
- Caping knife
- Sheath: All in one
It’s hard to find out what kind of steel this set is rocking, but Smith & Wesson doesn’t generally skimp on materials, so I doubt these blades have anything worse than Aus8. The cleaver is a pretty good alternative to a saw for separating the pelvic bone that not many people think about. In a lot of ways a saw is too limited where you could use a cleaver for anything from cooking over the campfire to chopping wood if you really had to.
I’m a little on the fence about the blade shape of the “guthook” knife. It seems a little to straight to me. I think the logic was that they didn’t need to put quite so much curve to it because they have a guthook on the back for slitting the belly, but who’s actually using that thing? Other than that, this is a pretty high quality set. The cleaver is tough, and the knives are sharp. This will get you wherever you want to go.
Tools in a Hunting Kit
The baseline set for most kits is a skinning knife and a bonesaw, but you’ll see all kinds of stuff thrown in beside those. There’s a little bit cross over in the knives you’d use in a butcher set, but that’s more for dressing and fabricating game in house. The stuff here is for dressing game in the field. Here’s a quick rundown of the different kinds of blades you might see and what they’re generally used for.
This is typically short blade with a big belly. This is usually what you’d use to do most of the work before you actually start parceling out the meat. While these are usually short, you’ll see a wide variety of sizes according to the size or type of game they’re designed to skin.
Boning / Fillet Knife
Once you get to the bones you need something to cut the bones out of the meat. That usually involves a lot of slicing ligaments and odd muscle strands past large slabs of meat, so you need a long thin blade. That’s where the boning knife comes in.
Think of this as your scalpel. A lot of hunters use these for trophy cuts or getting the hide off, but it’s useful anytime you need to make very precise cuts. The important features are that it’s thin, short (about 3 inches), and very sharp. These are also nice to use for small game in general.
At first glance these will basically look like heavy-duty scissors, only modified to be able to cut through thick skin and meat. Generally at least one blade of the shears will have some modification like a recurve with slight serration, but they come in all shapes and sizes. The important thing is that they’re sharp and can come apart easily so you can clean them.
It’s like a regular saw, only sharper and (hopefully) more resistant to corrosion. They come in all shapes and sizes but it’s important to get a bone saw specifically. Using a wood saw for dressing game will be a lot messier than it should be.