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Features of the Top Custom Utility Hunters

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Blade Magazine October 2021 RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB by Les Robertson pgs. 54-57

The hunting utility knife is a workhorse in the field.  Consider these factors before you purchase your knife.  What will the knife be primarily used for?  What size handle is best for your hand?  Will you be able to do the required maintenance for the knife’s steel?  Can you sharpen your knife in the field?  If not, practice before you get there.

I prefer a 5″ blade as my experience has taught me that a big blade can do little knife chores, but not the other way around.  As my 7th-grade shop teacher always said, “Use the right tool for the job,” sage advice. 

“Ideal size for a hunting utility knife,” you ask.  Having judged this category at the Blade show for over two decades, I can tell you there is no one ideal size.  That said, most of the winners feature a blade between 3  7/8″ and 5″.  For the makers reading this, please do not submit your 10″ bowie or 2″ miniature in this category for judging.  

Jan Hafinec with forged double hamon 5″ blade

In addition to dimensions, the importance of handle ergonomics cannot be overstated.  Most handles will feature some kind of contouring and generally will be between 4 ½” and 5″ long. 

Today, diversity is the word.  There are numerous steels and handle materials to choose from.  Once again, consider what the knife is going to be used for then pick the steel and/or handle material accordingly.  You will find that a well-thought-out hunting knife will become an all-around camp knife, as well.

Mike Malosh 6″ blade, Elk antler handle