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I'm seeking advice and opinions. A knife-making friend asked me what I was looking for in my next knife. Since I own many knives (mostly military) I really don't need any additional collector pieces. In fact, I am in the process of selling most of my collections. It's just time.

What I really want is something to be used for a camp knife; mostly skinning of small and medium game and as a small utility knife for the field. Don't think I like the idea of a 'gut hook' however, to be fair, I've never used one. I'm thinking of a fixed blade of no more than 4" in a drop point, but not sure if this style is best for my purposes.

When I check out the internet I find so many conflicting recommendations, I stopped looking there (even though I know that if it's on the web it must be true, right?). I have gutted and skinned deer, antelope, squirrels, rabbits, but always with whatever knife I had handy at the time.

How about feedback from those knowledgeable about this type of knife. Blade style, material (carbon or stainless steel), grind type and anything else that is relevant. Since he makes knives, I think he may be flexible in a creation that fits my requests.

Thanks!

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I like the Ruana 10B Skinner. The blade is 3 1/2, a good overall skinner knife.

Hi Marlo – Well geez-Louise, Gus pretty much nailed it with his simple one-liner reply! It’s hard to go wrong with the Ruana 10B skinner in terms of overall size and design.

However - I’d like to weigh in if you haven’t already made a decision…but I can’t say it all in one line (and I see an opportunity to show off a little!).

I do not hunt, but I do a lot BBQ, smoked meats, and sausage making – lamb, goat, sheep (wild), deer, antelope, elk, boar, rabbit, fowl (wild and water), and poultry (chicken & turkey). I usually receive my meats already cleaned, but I do the butchering and trimming (helps out on the price-per-pound costs!). Sometimes I do the skinning too – depending on my meat source. So my perspective is from these experiences.

In fact – when I shop for the “perfect knife”, it’s always with the intention to try it out on my meats. I like using field knives verses kitchen cutlery because it adds fun to the meat-prep process….and using my “collection” knives turns heads when there’s an audience!

I use three basic knife profiles for all these meats – a medium sized Nessmuk style blade, a couple of different drop point knives, and a variety of trailing point blades. Once in a while I’ll mix it up some and use an Ulu or one of my “exotic” knives, but more often than not I return to one of the three types named previously for all the meat prep. In terms of blade grind, I’m not too particular if it is a hollow grind, a convex bevel grind, or a classic high-flat or flat grind.

As for the steel type – there is much to consider – the least of which is maintenance. Since I use my knives primarily on food – I need clean up to be simple and effective. I can’t afford the smallest amount of rust or other residue to form between uses. I also want a durable blade that retains an edge. Periodically taking a blade to a steel when working with game is a no brainer – but I don’t want to have to stop, clean it, then take it to a stone either. So I look for steels that are stainless, durable, and meet the need for the intended use. 440C was the go-to steel for years…now there are so many choices, I maintain a Steel chart to keep up (and not look stupid).

I’ve tried a gut hook…didn’t work so well for me. I think it is a worthwhile skill, but I am just not interested in learning it. Since I rarely skin game, a gut hook is not a value-add feature for me….it’s more of a nuisance.

If you only want one knife to do everything – then a general camp knife would probably be your best option as you stated – as it would be a design suitable for gutting & skinning medium to small game, some fish and fowl, as well as serve other general purposes (camp chores, bushcraft, etc.).

Now I know there are those who can carve a toothpick with an 18” Bowie or a baby spoon with a double headed axe…that’s not me. I need a knife that can do specific things really well, along with some other things well enough.

One basic no-nonsense design can be seen in this review of the Mossberg 9899 Fixed Blade Skinning Knife. Since you are having yours custom made, the review may offer up some attributes that you may want to consider (such as size, materials, handling considerations, etc.). It can also serve as a minimum baseline as to your knife’s functionality.

https://iknifecollector.com/forum/topics/mossberg-msg9899-general-p...

 

My Show-Off part

Here are a few of my go-to knives that you can also consider for design, function, and size.

For small game, some fowl & poultry I use this Muela 3162 Outdoor knife. It’s a 10 3/4” knife that is ideal for deboning pork butts and game shoulder cuts, yet agile enough to prep ribs and remove silver skin and membrane. It sports a 420H/MoVa 440 stainless steel hollow grind blade, and maintenance is almost non-existent. It holds a great edge, is ideal for small – medium sized game, most fowl, and chicken hind quarters (deboning, joint separation, skinning, etc.).

I use this medium-sized 9” skinning knife from CFK for a lot of different meat prep. This one is mirror finished 1095 high carbon steel with a hollow grind. The benefit of this steel is it's easy to sharpen, will take an extremely sharp edge and is generally available at a low cost.

However, because 1095 is a plain carbon steel, it has low resistance to corrosion, and low to medium edge retention. The blade turns black when blood and acidic liquids get onto the blade. As a result, this knife requires a higher level of love and attention to keep the mirror finish beautiful in between uses.

From a design perspective, I do not find either one of these practical enough to serve as a general purpose knife – but they are great for meat prep.

For heftier work on the larger game or larger cuts of meat, I like using two of my other general purpose hunting knives also from CFK.

The first one is a rather large Nessmuk-style knife. While it’s not exactly like the Ruana 10B Skinner mentioned by Gus earlier in terms of design, I think you can draw a line and connect the two and say they are similar. Mine is a hollow grind 440j2 steel blade. This steel is good in that that it contains a medium quality of carbon content, has good corrosion resistance, and it is resistant to many acids and household cleaners. It is also more durable when compared to the 440 grades of steel.

This second one is a real favorite because it just handles well. This drop point is well balanced, makes for easy work, and it’s fun to use. The blade is hollow grind and is made of 154CM steel, which offers good blade toughness, edge holding capability, and has high corrosion resistance. In terms of design, it has all the features I need when in the field. I can do detailed game work, camp chores, bushcraft, and stab (not that stabbing is an often used function, it’s good to know it can!).  

So with all that said, I hope this will either help confirm what you already have decided, or at least gives you some ideas to think about. If your knife is already made, let’s see it!

CORRECTION - My bad - the steel on that Nessmuk-style knife is a typo - should read 420j2, which is more durable when compared to 440 grades.(Duh!) Sorry for the confusion. 

Wow. Thanks Gus and Lars for the replies. Much to consider. I will take my time and mull these over.

I have had a rather large military knife collection that has taken me years to assemble. Although I have been selling off most of the more scarce edges for a while, there are still many that remain that are in VG to EX condition. I am thinking of adapting one of these for my all-around knife concept, but it is hard for me to actually use one of these historic blades in a mundane,  daily way (unless it has been previously damaged or otherwise marred in some way).

So here I am, a man with dozens of knives justifying just one more purchase (it is always just one more). Decisions, decisions.

Thanks again for the great advice. Appreciate you and this site!

Forgot to add this: I also tried a gut hook on an antelope. I wanted it to work, because it seemed so 'right' for the intended purpose. Well, I couldn't make it work either (for me, at least). Found it much easier doing it the old fashioned way.

Truth be told, I don't know if I'll be hunting big game any longer. I want to, but time and my back are enticing me to stick with more sedate targets, like paper and tin cans. But just in case...

Adapting an existing one you already own eh....not a bad thought. There's always going to be pro's and con's on that kind of move....let alone discussions about altering a "historical" piece for present pursuits. Well I can't imagine you taking an FS dagger and making a camp knife out if it, so what are your thoughts.... a Ka Bar or Camillus Marine knife perhaps? A Pilot Survival Knife (PSK)? 

I absolutely understand and appreciate your thought process on this....many of us have been in the same or similar situation coming to similar conclusions. For myself...and in my own mind....I find it easy to create a perfectly rational case to justify in my own mind the imperative to Not re-purpose an existing blade (historical or not), and to get what I really want all along. Then when presenting this rational case to my wife - she shows me in loving terms and with equal and rational sincerity what a line of BS I am doling out. Of course she is right...and once I admit it - she fully supports me getting what I want. I hate it when she does that...  LoL!!! I know it and she knows it....and it's all part of the fun.

I share that to share this - I have a rather large collection of insignificant knives along with some real gems and a couple of pieces of significance. Always looking, always browsing, the question inevitably comes out..."How many knives do you need?" "Just one more" is always the reply. She gets it...she just likes to mess with me too.

Be sure to let us know what you finally decide on....



Mario said:

Wow. Thanks Gus and Lars for the replies. Much to consider. I will take my time and mull these over.

I have had a rather large military knife collection that has taken me years to assemble. Although I have been selling off most of the more scarce edges for a while, there are still many that remain that are in VG to EX condition. I am thinking of adapting one of these for my all-around knife concept, but it is hard for me to actually use one of these historic blades in a mundane,  daily way (unless it has been previously damaged or otherwise marred in some way).

So here I am, a man with dozens of knives justifying just one more purchase (it is always just one more). Decisions, decisions.

Thanks again for the great advice. Appreciate you and this site!

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