Skinning Knives Every Hunter Should Own

A successful hunt means you will need three skinning knives to skin out big game. The three a clip point, drop point, & caping knife.

Skinning Knives
Skinning Knives

AmmoLand Gun News

Idaho – -( Theoretically you will need three knives to skin out big game.

First, you’ll need a knife with a clip point to cut the pattern and then one with a drop point to do the actual skinning.

Do you have to have both? No, I’ve skinned over 100 deer with a fold-up knife, it’s just that if you’re saving the hide, you’ll cut fewer holes when using a drop point skinning knife.

So let’s start with what you’ll want to mark the pattern. I prefer a 3 ½-inch foldup or a straight blade knife not over 5-6 inches so I can easily control them. I have never liked a serrated edge but while testing the Xtreme Series V by Knives of Alaska (KOA) on a Texas deer hunt I changed my mind. It ripped through the sternum cage like hot butter.

If you’re saving the hide then you’ll want a skinning knife with a drop point. I don’t care for anything over 6-inches with four being better. With a drop point, you’re less likely to cut through the skin. You don’t have to have one but you can work faster and be less cautious if you do. All of the good skinning knives will have somewhere around a 1 ½-inch wide blade.

To skin out the feet on bears or for caping out heads a caping knife works best. As kids when we were trapping we used a small pocket knife which I guess in all actuality was a predecessor to the modern day caping knife.

For a caping knife, you don’t want a blade over three inches. It will have a narrow blade so you can work around the eyes and lips or to skin out the feet on your bears.

My favorite skinning knives?

Diamond Blade Traditional Hunter - Linen Black Micarta Skinning Knife
Diamond Blade Traditional Hunter – Linen Black Micarta Skinning Knife

Diamond Blade Traditional Hunter. It is the ultimate skinning knife (read pricey). The spine has been ground down to a point so that you can mark the pattern and yet it has a nice rounded cutting edge for skinning. Shop Diamond Blade Traditional Hunter here.


Diamond Blade Summit Folder - Titanium Texalium
Diamond Blade Summit Folder – Titanium Texalium

Diamond Blade Summit foldup. If you favor a fold-up knife then this is it. The blade is almost identical to the above knife but in the fold up style. Shop: Diamond Blade Summit Folder here.

PUMA 3 1/2" SGB Ranger Folding Knife
PUMA 3 1/2″ SGB Ranger Folding Knife

Puma SGB foldups. Puma SGB offers a lot of nice designs in their fold-up models. They work great for marking the pattern. I’ve got numerous fold-ups in the Puma SGB line. I recommend using any of their knives with blades around 3 ½-inches. Shop for PUMA 3 1/2″ SGB Ranger Folding Knife


Knives of Alaska Cub Bear Knife Model
Knives of Alaska Cub Bear Knife Model

Caping Knives. The Knives of Alaska Cub Bear Knife Model . This is a nice little caping knife. I’ve also got to mention checking out some of the KOA kits that include a caping knife.

KOA owns the market on knife kits 

Also check out the Puma SGB Skinner or the KOA Pronghorn for some good clip point knives. I also like the KOA Elk Hunter .

Knives of Alaska Suregrip Trekker Series Elk Hunter Knife
Knives of Alaska Suregrip Trekker Series Elk Hunter Knife

Are there other good, functional knives on the market? Sure there are. The above list has my favorite go-to knives though. If you choose to pick another brand, just make sure that you get ones designed like the above-mentioned knives. There are a lot of non-functional designs on the market.


Forschner 6" Boning Knife
Forschner 6″ Boning Knife

Boning Knives
Let’s finish on what knife you’ll want to use to bone your animal after you’ve skinned it. You’ll want a 6-inch boning knife. There are a handful of good boning knives on the market with Forschner and Don’t Tread on Me popping up first in my mind. Whichever boning knife that you decide to go with, make sure that the blade is designed exactly like a Forschner 6″ Boning Knife.

Tom Claycomb
Tom Claycomb

For dexterity and ease in handling, I prefer a wood handled a knife like the Don’t Tread on Me has. Years ago they all utilized wood handles but due to selling meat to the European Economic Community plastic was demanded. But plastic is not the best handling handle. Try the old wood handled knives once and you’ll love them.

About Tom Claycomb
Tom Claycomb has been an avid hunter/fisherman throughout his life as well as an outdoors writer with outdoor columns in the magazine Hunt Alaska, Bass Pro Shops, and freelances for numerous magazines.

(To properly skin you animal you will need a sharp knife. I have an e-article on Amazon Kindle titled KNIFE SHARPENING  for $.99 if you’re having trouble).

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The two knives in the bottom-right of the first picture look like skinning knives to me. But not the ones the article actually focuses in on.


I feel like the knives here may be good “hunting knives.” They will work to dress and will work well enough to separate joints and, yes, to skin. But these are knives that try to do all these tasks well enough with dressing as the primary purpose. But a real “skinning” knife is one that is designed especially to excel at exactly that–skinning. The characteristic of a true skinning knife, then, is a great amount of belly, significantly more than you’ll find on any drop point because…well the point being dropped down reduces the amount of belly that can exist… Read more »

george h. york

I would like to know where to get these knifes I would to get 2 of them . I know that the black diamond knife have been around send me an E-mail so I an send you a check for them Because he is a hunter thank you . You can E-mail at [email protected]


Jimmy, looks like a nice one. There are so many nice skinning knives out there it’s hard not to do an injustice unless you list the top 15 or 20 I reckon. Then especially when you realize that to cover skinning you have to list out 3 categories. One to mark the pattern, one to actually skin w/ and one to do your caping. Thanks for sharing, haven’t seen this one before.

Jimmy Smith

I found this great knife at Victory Wolf and think it should join the list:

Weige Drop Point Skinner