As hunters we are regularly on the lookout for an all purpose hunting knife that strikes a balance between value and quality. The kind of knife that can field dress game, skinning and boning when needed. A knife with a quality steel edge that will stay sharp longer, and can be sharpened when needed. Sure there are $300 knives that can do all of that, but that’s not good value, and so today we’re going to share our review of what we believe to be the Best Hunting Knife.
The Buck Hunting Knife
Buck has been making quality hunting knives since 1902, and there’s a lot of experience and knowledge that comes with focusing on one thing for such a long period of time. With 4 generations of the Buck family now running the business, everything one generation has learned has been passed down to the next. It’s been a family based knife manufacturing business since the start, and remains that way today . . . 4 generations later. Our focus is one particular knife from the legendary Buck Hunting Knife lineup.
Made in the USA
My first pocket knife was a Buck given to me from my father. My first hunting knife was also a Buck, it was the legendary Buck 110, and I still have it today. That same knife is still being produced, and it still ranks high on my scale. Buck is US-based, calling Post Falls (Idaho) home to the Buck Knives Plant, and that’s no baloney – Buck makes their knives right here in the USA!
Buck 113 Ranger Skinner Knife ($80)
While the Buck 110 certainly made an impression on many of us, today’s review will be focused on a more advanced hunting knife – the Buck 113 Ranger Skinner Knife.
Key Features of the Buck 113
- It just feels right in my size large hands
- It’s nicely balanced
- The finger grove is very well engineered to do its job of protecting from slippage
- The quality of the finish is excellent – the walnut handle is smooth but not slippery, and the blade is firm and stiff
- The 420HC blade is perfect for field dressing game – it’s short enough to be nimble, long enough to be useful in almost everything but the largest tasks, its razor sharp, and it holds an edge like few others
- When its needed, the 420HC blade sharpens well
- The price point – I love that this knife can be bought for well under $150
Dimensions of the Buck 113
- Blade Length: 3 1/8″
- Total Length: 7 1/4″ (8″ with sheath)
- Blad material: 420HC Stainless Steel blade (RC58 on the hardness scale)
- Weighs 5.2 oz
Buck 113 Review and Field Test
While there are many hunting knives in the Buck lineup, this one has been a long time favorite as it balances high quality with good pricing, making it affordable for most hunters. The blade is 3 1/8″ long, which a tad shorter than the more popular 3 1/2″ blade. The shorter length makes it nice and nimble, easy to maneuver, and light. Buck was able to reduce the cost of this knife compared to others by opting for a 420HC Stainless Steel blade, which has more carbon in it than stainless steel, and has been hardened to an impressive RC58 – that’s hard. The 420HC is a step down from the S30V steel model, but it’s a very subtle difference amounting to a significant savings in price. After all, why spend extra money for a marginally better blade. This knife weighs just over 5.2oz with its sheath, and it’s a respectable and easy to carry 7 1/4″ in total length (8″ in its sheath).
My father and I each have one on our belts, and we use it for skinning and boning of game as big as large deer, small elk or moose. The knife is up to the job of handling bigger projects but we opt for a larger blade when that time comes. That’s one of the perks of having many knives to choose from. yet, this one remains a favorite.
Field Test Highlights
We’ve used it regularly over the past 8 months and here’s what we’ve learned:
Blade: There are harder steel options out there than the 420HC but this particular steel is plenty hard, and it’s easily sharpened
Durability: Like most Buck products, this is made in the USA and it shows. It holds up to use, yet stays sharp, solid, and reliable
Ease of Use: It’s slightly short blade (3 1/8″ vs 3 1/2″) makes it nimble and easy to handle
Value: At well under $100, this is easily one of the best values in a quality hunting knife you can find today
Buck 113 vs. the Competition
If you have something else in mind for your next hunting knife we suggest taking a closer look at these knives worthy of an honorable mention – the very capable Benchmade Hidden Canyon ($127), the winner of many awards yet far more expensive Spyderco FB36CFP ($269), or the bargain priced Case Drop Point Leather Hunter knife ($55).